The former deputy of a US group formed to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has defended his record at Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), saying that many people fail to understand his platform.

Ying Ma, author and senior adviser at lobbying firm Avenue Strategies, said on Tuesday that she was eager to speak at the FCC after being told that few people in Hong Kong were prepared to openly declare their support for Trump, adding that there was “a lot of frothing at the mouth” in political discussions.

“I think the promise of the Trump revolution lies at the heart of Trump’s support… It is a movement that has offered a reminder that average Americans do not need to, and should not have to speak in the same way as Ivy Leaguers, establishment politicians, or the mainstream media in order to have their concerns heard or their wishes taken seriously.”

Ying Ma and Donald Trump. Photo: Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute; Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Ma said that Trump’s policy agenda emphasised common sense. She said that Trump’s executive ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries to the US – currently under review by the Supreme Court – would have allowed for a defence of the country’s borders.

She also said that Trump’s promises to repeal Obamacare, defeat ISIS, and end the country’s involvement in “stupid, endless wars” would allow America to assert its democratic self-governance.

Ma said that Trump’s personal style is to “stab political correctness and identity politics in the heart again and again.”

“We keep hearing that Trump is racist, sexist, a misogynist, a xenophobe, an Islamophobe. For those of us who support him, we’d like to remind everybody that, in fact, the left is the real hotbed of racism in America. Leftists are the ones who have systematically discriminated against students by race in university admissions – in the United States, they call this affirmative action,” said Ma.

Affirmative action relates to policies which favour members of disadvantaged groups, or groups which have suffered historic discrimination.

Donald Trump. Photo: US Gov.

“The left’s politicians and cadres not only pretend that religion has nothing to do with radical Islamic terrorism, they behave as if after every terrorist attack in America, Americans in fact are the people who ought to apologise to the Muslim American community – this is their version of religious tolerance… The Trump presidency has already shown that it will not serve this paradigm on bended knee, and that was, in many ways, part of his promise,” said Ma.

Charlottesville row

When asked about Trump’s reaction to the white supremacist riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one counter-protester dead, Ma said that she thought that the president could have done more to denounce the KKK and its supporters. She said that Trump had a tendency to be “extremely imprecise.”

“I think that from his point of view, he thinks that it’s incredibly unfair that people do not cover him, or people do not give him credit for denouncing these groups, and he has denounced them repeatedly, not only during the Charlottesville controversy but also years ago,” said Ma.

She said she agreed with Trump that both sides were to blame for the escalation of violence in Charlottesville.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

When asked whether there was a limit to her support of the president, Ma said that the administration had previously made “unseemly” decisions. She said she disagreed with Trump’s criticism of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had previously recused himself from an ongoing investigation into collusive interactions between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. However, Ma said that she had not – as of yet – seen a reason to fully withdraw her support.

“Are you asking whether I think the Russia investigation is full of crap? Yes, I do,” said Ma.

The FCC had previously received criticism for allowing Ma to use its platform to share her views.

Ahead of the lunch, which attracted criticism on social media, FCC President and BBC Correspondent Juliana Liu said: “[A]s an institution, we welcome the debate that controversial speakers bring to the club, as we pride ourselves as a politically neutral platform for free speech and free expression.”

Jun Pang

Jun Pang is an independent writer and researcher. She has previously worked in NGOs advocating for refugees' and migrants' rights in Asia and Europe.