Regina Ip comments on Cathay Pacific incident and urges Hong Kongers to reflect on their own English abilities

Regina Ip

29th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) The recent controversy surrounding a Cathay Pacific flight attendant‘s alleged discriminatory remarks towards a Mainland Chinese passenger has sparked heated discussions among netizens in both Hong Kong and the Mainland. After the airline swiftly fired three employees involved in the incident, Regina Ip, the convenor of the Executive Council of Hong Kong, shared her thoughts on the matter on social media.

In a blog post titled “My Opinion on the Cathay Pacific Incident,” Ip stated that discriminatory behavior is unacceptable, but she also agreed that some of the Mainland netizens‘ reactions were excessive. She also called on certain Hong Kong people to reflect on their own English abilities when mocking Mainlanders’ English pronunciation.

Ip, together with three other New People’s Party lawmakers, visited Zhejiang during the Buddha’s Birthday long weekend. She mentioned that in her discussions with Mainland officials about the Cathay Pacific incident, some expressed outrage and asked why Hong Kong people still discriminate against Mainland people, while others acknowledged that some Mainland netizens’ reactions were over the top. Some have even called for British conglomerate Swire to withdraw from Cathay Pacific.

Ip acknowledged that some Mainland netizens may not understand the unique characteristics of Hong Kong society. While more and more people in Hong Kong are speaking Putonghua, it is not as prevalent as in the Mainland. She emphasised that as a service worker, mocking customers based on their origin, skin colour, or language is discrimination, and any professional and mature service worker should not engage in such behaviour. Respect for customers and treating them with courtesy is a hallmark of professionalism.

Ip also pointed out that some Hong Kong people ridicule others for their pronunciation or grammatical errors in English. She invited former Washington Post journalist and former chairman of the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents‘ ClubKeith Richburg, to write a foreword for her upcoming book, “Learning English from Regina.” In the foreword, Richburg stated that he has observed a decline in English proficiency among Hong Kong people in recent years, with many making mistakes in grammar, spelling, and verb tense.

Ip concluded that Hong Kong people should not discriminate against Mainlanders, and Mainlanders should not react excessively or emotionally towards Hong Kong people. Such behaviour will only deepen the divisions between the two regions.