IPSPEAK to be preserved


Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee is no longer secretary for security. After the July 1, 2003 public protest by half a million Hong Kong residents, who voiced strong disapproval of Mrs. Ip, the administration of Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa accepted her resignation, and she left government service 24 days later. Her place as secretary for security has been filled by another career civil servant, S.K. Lee. He will carry on the unfinished business of enacting the Article 23 legislation


Mrs. Ip's absence is deeply felt here at www.article23.org.hk. The website, born in October 2002, a month after the process of Article 23 enactment began, was an attempt to make available to the public vital facts and viewpoints being given short shrift by Mrs. Ip. If the government Article 23 team which she headed had been doing a proper job of consulting and informing the public, which had many legitimate concerns about the issue, there would have been no need for such a website. During this process of pseudo-consulting and disinformation, the half-truths spoken by Mrs. Ip and her savaging of even the most reasonable critics went beyond the conduct customary of Hong Kong officials. Yet her remarks spoke volumes about the enactment. As an act of governance it was crude and amateurish. The flaws were reflected in the draft legislation. If enacted as proposed by the government, it would have severe consequences on Hong Kong's status as one of Asia's freest societies. It thus became part of the website 's mission to store Mrs. Ip's relevant remarks as reported by the local press in this collection titled IPSPEAK.


IPSPEAK hasn't outlived its usefulness. For revisionism set in even before Mrs. Ip actually departed. She authored some of the revising herself with bitter complaints about bad elements among lawyers, legislators and journalists who misled the public and slandered her. She was assisted in this effort by fellow officials and establishment types who portrayed her as a victim of hounding by those same bad elements. There is no doubt that she has done good in her decades of government service, but all that revisionism about her Article 23 role threatens to distort the realities of the most important political debate so far in post-colonial Hong Kong. Unless one revisits Mrs. Ip's actual remarks, one is liable to forget that it was the public interest, and not Mrs. Ip, that suffered the gravest injustice.


Furthermore, Article 23 remains unfinished business. There is no telling yet as to whether the government Article 23 team under a new secretary for security will bring substantive change to the enactment process. And after that, there will be other battles for freedom. The next time Hong Kong faces such a battle, it will want to relive and learn from the past. All the more reason, then, for IPSPEAK to be preserved as an integral part of this website despite Mrs. Ip's departure.


August 2003