Police are investigating alleged threats against pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip by the real estate investment trust Link. However, those involved in the incident have toned down their claims.

On Wednesday, Ip claimed columnist Simon Lee informed her staff member Derek Yuen that, if she did not stop criticising Link, the company would make trouble for her district councillors who rented properties as offices through Link. Ip had been critical of the firm following a recent HK$23 billion plan to sell-off 17 local shopping centres at public housing estates.

Ip said on Thursday that “make trouble” was not the exact phrase Lee used, but she rephrased it to express how she felt.

Regina Ip
Regina Ip. File Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

When asked about the case, Secretary for Security John Lee said he understood the police had been handling the case: “Anyone who makes threatening comments to a third person is in violation of Hong Kong laws… no matter what method was used.”

Derek Yuen said during a Commercial Radio programme on Thursday that Lee did not use words including “make trouble,” but the message was clearly meant as a warning that, if Ip continues to criticise Link, “Link may have no choice but to not rent places to our party.”

“I only relayed this message… it was a very polished [message],” Yuen said, adding that he understood Lee was only a messenger for Link.

Yuen said Ip believed it was a threat when she heard it, but he “did not have many hard feelings [towards Lee].”

Derek Yuen Simon Lee
Derek Yuen (left) and Simon Lee. Photo: Stand News/Apple Daily.

Simon Lee maintained that he did not say the words that Ip described and there was a misunderstanding. He said he did not intend to go to the forum where he bumped into Yuen – who he has not met for two years. Rather, he attended upon the invitation of Eunice Yung, a lawmaker for Ip’s party.

He said on the radio programme that he only raised the point at the time so that he could be a bridge between Link and Ip’s New People’s Party: “I wanted to help the New People’s Party more than Link.”

Lee had worked with Link as a contractor to conduct policy analysis, but he said he never did lobbying for the firm, and whatever he said publicly for them was based on his own free market ideals.

He said he was willing to apologise to Ip if he offended her in his newspaper columns. But Ip did not accept his apology on the programme.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.