28 October 2016
"Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung (left) says Ip Kwok-him's appointment to Exco is a regression and defies Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Photos: HKEJ, internet
"Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung (left) says Ip Kwok-him's appointment to Exco is a regression and defies Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Photos: HKEJ, internet

Meet new non-English-speaking Exco member Ip Kwok-him

So we have a new Executive Council member, but he doesn’t like to speak English.

In a surprise appointment, legislator Ip Kwok-him, 63, is replacing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king, who has resigned from Exco with immediate effect to focus on her other role as a member of the Legislative Council.

A former vice chairman of the DAB, Ip dodged questions from the English media, saying, “I have seldom answered in English. I am sorry.”

Luckily he can still get by in Exco, because the 30 other members all speak fluent Cantonese.

As this writer constantly points out, the DAB needs a good English teacher and/or editor if it wants to have a better image.

From the party’s chairwoman (who once said “yin fa struck cheung” on RTHK when she meant infrastructure) to veteran lawmaker Christopher (“You are dreaming on your office or you are not attended at your office”) Chung Shu-kun, from his younger colleague Gary (“I will try my breast”) Chan Hak-kan to unknown district councilors — its members constantly make mistakes that make them look bad in the gossip pages.

Yet Ip’s appointment produced more questions than answers.

Why a political rising star like Starry Lee would quit Exco is as mysterious as why she was replaced by a colleague 21 years older.

You do not replace a new battery with an old one, right?

Legislator “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung asked the right question.

In front of the television cameras, he congratulated Ip on his appointment but said it was against Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, because he had been selected to replace young blood.

Leung went on to say Ip’s appointment was like a final gift to him in his political career.

Ip did not reply to that point, either, simply telling Leung, “Your hair seemed to be quite ugly.”

Ip and Leung seldom see eye to eye.

Three years ago, Ip asked why a certain legislator who made HK$80,000 (US$10,312) a month could keep living in a public housing estate while owning a private car and partying in Lan Kwai Fong.

He was obviously referred to Leung.

Ip joined Legco in 2008 after losing two elections, in 1998 and 2003.

He entered Legco through the district council constituency.

Like many fellow lawmakers in other political parties, Ip may not be re-elected in September.

Few would bet on him in the upcoming Legco elections, because he has been rejected twice.

Ip is a Hong Kong delegate to the National People’s Congress and a member of the election committee that picked the city’s chief executive.

Apart from his public service on the Mandatory Provident Fund Authority, he also sits on the boards of two listed companies — CNC Holdings Ltd. (08356.HK) and Vantage International (Holdings) Ltd. (00015.HK) as an independent non-executive director.

Fellow Exco member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who leads the New People’s Party, welcomed Ip’s appointment, saying it was natural for the DAB, Hong Kong’s biggest political party, to have a say in Exco.

She said she appreciates the wisdom of the division of labor between Lee and her successor, because like Lee, she is also a mother, the leader of a political party and an Exco member.

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EJ Insight writer

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