28 January 2020
Is it time for Starry Lee to brush up on her English with a tutor? Photo: Starry Lee's facebook
Is it time for Starry Lee to brush up on her English with a tutor? Photo: Starry Lee's facebook

Spare a thought for Starry Lee and her English advisor

Tongue-tied Starry Lee Wai-king raised a few chuckles among listeners to RTHK’s “Letter to Hong Kong” program Sunday — almost as many as legislator Gary Chan Hak-kan managed in 2008 with his notorious “try our breast” linguist slip.

The rising star of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong launched into her nine-minute English monologue by turning the “Progress” in her party’s name into “Process”, according to Apple Daily, although the mistake was later rectified on the RTHK website.

The painstaking recording was reminiscent of a non-Band A high school reading class student and had our capable backbench squirming at her Chinglish and basic mistakes such as “constitution reform”, instead of “constitutional reform”.

Well, to err is human. We know the wisdom of those in glass houses not throwing stones — as a 40-year veteran night editor of a certain local English paper put it, “There are mistakes on every page every day – but no one should be fired.” But that still begs a valid question: Why didn’t Lee, a potential chief executive candidate for 2022 and beyond, get an English tutor?

Almost everyone had a good laugh six years ago when fellow DAB member Gary Chan told reporters that the DAB will “try our breast” (meaning “best”) as a sign of its commitment. Now that is going the extra mile.

But the DAB, which raised a record HK$68 million in its latest charity auction, seems to prefer spending money on their four signature gifts of “snake soup, veggie dishes, mooncakes and rice dumplings” rather than hiring an Anna for the king.

We gather the liaison office was nice enough to hire a foreign expert to teach DAB members such as Starry Lee and Elizabeth Quat, best known for her PhD in management from “Greenwich University”. But, to borrow a mainland phrase, the efforts need to be “deepened” for a better result.

Hopes are high that DAB patriarch Jasper Tsang Yok-sing will start a summer English course. If so, maybe he can also find a place for Law Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung, who has something against responding to a reporter’s question in English.

RTHK program link:

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EJ Insight writer