16 February 2019
Mary Jean Reimer has become a crusader against wrongdoings committed in the name of her religion. Photo: HKEJ
Mary Jean Reimer has become a crusader against wrongdoings committed in the name of her religion. Photo: HKEJ

Mary Jean Reimer: The housewife is no softie

Actress-turned-solicitor Mary Jean Reimer (翁靜晶), also known as Yung Ching-ching, had tried hard to keep a low profile since she married kung fu actor and movie director Lau Kar-leung in 1984.

She devoted herself to being a good housewife and Buddhist.

But it is her devotion to her religion that pushed her to return to the limelight, but this time no longer as the screen goddess that she was in the early ’80s but as a crusader against wrongdoings committed in the name of her religion.

Her efforts to save Ting Wai Monastery in Tai Po led her to uncover a donations scam and other shenanigans allegedly perpetrated by no less than the Buddhist nun who runs the temple.

Reimer grew up in a tough neighborhood in Tsim Sha Tsui, where, as a teenager, she led a small gang of street kids.

One day, some bullies slapped her introverted younger brother and, as to be expected, she and two well-built pals sought them out in a nearby billiard hall.

A rumble was about to take place, but fortunately, a couple of off-duty police officers were passing by and intervened. She was taken to the police station.

There, the officers tried to take her fingerprints, but the 15-year-old resisted, arguing that they couldn’t do that routine to a minor.

She also sought help from a human rights group, which immediately called the station and dressed down the officers.

The officers, not knowing what to do, called up her grandmother and asked the old woman to fetch the “troublemaker” from the station.

In 1993, Reimer and her husband got caught in the middle of an armed robbery at Tai Ping Koon restaurant on Mau Lam Street in Yau Ma Tei.

One of the five robbers recognized Lau and, seeing him as a threat, pointed a gun at him.

Reimer, who was sitting across the table from Lau, told the gangster to lower the gun with a menacing stare.

“He did lower his gun, but they proceeded to rob the place and fled,” she recalled.

At that moment, Reimer took charge and ordered everyone, including the kids hiding behind the bar, to stay away from the windows as the robbers might fire their weapons.

The robbers did exchange gunfire with the responding policemen, wounding two of the officers, but all the restaurant diners and staff were safe.

She attributed her courage in the life-threatening situation to her love for her husband.

“If I failed to protect him from danger, I thought I wouldn’t want to live either,” she said.

When asked if she would consider entering politics, given her legal background and fearless attitude, Reimer didn’t hesitate to say no.

First of all, she said, she wouldn’t give up her foreign passport.

“There’s hardly anything you could ever achieve if you’re in politics. I would rather do something meaningful and useful to society in my capacity as a private citizen and as a solicitor,” she said.

She said what is happening in Hong Kong today is the direct result of Britain’s actions before 1997.

The British government should have given Hong Kong people the option to stay in the territory or become British citizens.

“That way those who were willing to live as obedient citizens would stay, while those who love the United Kingdom could go and need not be stuck in the city and come up with the idea of Hong Kong independence,” she said.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 23.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

Another fake monk bites the dust (Jun 15, 2016)

Ting Wai Monastery scandal: HK$500,000 missing, says solicitor (Oct 14, 2015)

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HKEJ writer

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