Booze and Boos: Lunchtime protesters in Central bust out the bubbles, heckle pro-Beijing pol

A jubilant woman (left) offers pours of champagne as office workers celebrate pro-dems’ district council wins today. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip (right) was escorted away by police after being heckled by the crowd. Screengrabs via Twitter/Facebook/RTHK.
A jubilant woman (left) offers pours of champagne as office workers celebrate pro-dems’ district council wins today. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip (right) was escorted away by police after being heckled by the crowd. Screengrabs via Twitter/Facebook/RTHK.

The scene during the now-customary lunchtime protest in Central today veered from celebration to castigation and back again as office workers popped bottles of bubbly to toast the landslide pro-dem victory at yesterday’s local elections, while taking a break to heckle a pro-Beijing pol who happened to find herself in the midst of the crowd.

A crowd gathered in Central this afternoon for a different take on the regular “lunch with you” protest, which has recently involved nine-to-fivers leaving their offices at lunch to shout at cops, block roads, and express support for the city’s long-running pro-democracy protest movement before heading back to work.

Today’s “lunch with you” protest, however, was a cause for celebration following yesterday’s district council elections, which saw the pro-democracy camp sweep almost 90 percent of all the seats up for grabs and huge corresponding losses on the pro-Beijing side.

The all-around good cheer was such that some people were spotted passing out paper cups full of champagne to those assembled.

One particularly baller lady was even seen with a bottle of Dom Perignon, which tends to retail for well over HK$1,000, dishing out drams while gleefully exclaiming, “I’m running out of cups! C’mon!”

But the jubilation of the impromptu gathering quickly turned to jeers when controversial pro-Beijing politician Regina Ip happened to appear in the midst of the crowd, and was immediately met with boos from the crowd.

Ip is a lawmaker and the current chair of the small pro-Beijing party the New People’s Party. She’s been a widely reviled among the pro-democracy side ever since her role in advocating the passage of a controversial national security bill in 2003.

Ip was security secretary at the time and pushed for the bill, which was ultimately shelved after it’s unpopularity among Hongkongers prompted hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets in protest. (Sound familiar?)

She ultimately resigned from the post due to the fallout.

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In videos from the scene, Ip can be seen being escorted by riot police through the crowd to thumbs-down signs and shouts of “traitor.”

She is eventually led to a taxi and leaves the scene.

As unpopular as she is for her involvement in the 2003 national security fiasco, Ip hasn’t done much to endear herself to pro-dems since either.

Other great hits of hers include describing Filipino domestic workers in 2015 as “sexual resources” for Westerners, and calling in 2016 for a detention camp to be set up on a Shenzhen island to discourage asylum seekers and torture claimants from trying to enter Hong Kong.

Ip also ran for chief executive twice, once in 2012 and again in 2017, but withdrew in 2017 after failing to secure enough nominations.

Ip’s party, the NPP, meanwhile, was annihilated at the local level in Sunday’s district council elections. The party fielded 28 candidates in the elections and not only failed to capture any new seats,  but lost the more than 20 that they already held. One of the most high-profile defeats of the night took place in the South Horizons West constituency in Southern district, where NPP incumbent Judy Chan lost her seat to Kelvin Lam, who had stood in as the pro-democracy side’s “plan B” candidate after Joshua Wong was barred from running.

After making it out of Central, Ip gave a brief presser at the Legislative Council congratulating the winning candidates, accepting the result, and complaining — somewhat confusingly for a an election — that the poll had been “politicized.”

She also dismissed suggestions the NPP was a “dead party,” and said whether she would remain chairwoman would be up the party’s membership.

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