On Friday, the second day of the Lunar New Year, Ip and a group of government officials journeyed to Che Kung Miu temple in Sha Tin district to get a reading of Hong Kong’s fortune in the new year—an annual tradition.
As the group entered the temple, an energetic qilin mascot backed into Ip, sending her toppling backwards. Qilin, a mythical divine Chinese creature which resembles a cross between a dragon and a horse, is commonly translated as “unicorn” in English.
Ip was caught before hitting the ground, thanks to the quick reactions of people besides her. The qilin mascot reportedly disappeared into the crowd, according to Hong Kong and Taiwan newspaper Apple Daily.
“That qilin mascot really hit forcefully,” said Ip to Chinese language publication Ming Pao after the incident.
In a Facebook post, Ip called the incident an “accident,” and dismissed claims by Hong Kong media that the mascot had deliberately delivered a “knockout” blow to her because it wouldn’t be “fair” to him.
“In hindsight, it’s a really funny incident,” Ip continued. “I didn’t imagine that I’d have such a memorable second day in the Year of the Sheep.”
Videos of the incident made the rounds on social media, and netizens seized the opportunity to have a laugh at Ip. The New People’s Party chairwoman is known for pushing a controversial anti-subversion law in 2003 (Article 23), backing Beijing’s views, and chiding the pro-democracy camp, particularly during the 2014 Occupy protests.
Lam Yat-hei, a founder of 100Most, a popular satirical Hong Kong weekly magazine and Facebook page, poked fun at the temple incident in the government lingo used to criticize the Umbrella Movement protesters.
“The qilin mascot’s action was done in accordance to the law,” said Lam on his official Facebook page.
The Hong Kong government’s overuse of the phrase “in accordance to the law” in the past few years was recently slammed by former Hong Kong Bar Association chairman Paul Shieh as an attempt to impose “rule by law” in Hong Kong instead of upholding the “rule of law.”
Lam added: “Mdm. Ip’s obstruction of the pavement is an illegal act that cannot be tolerated by Hongkongers; the qilin mascot only used minimal force to drive away Mdm. Ip.”
During the Occupy protests, the Hong Kong government often condemned the street occupation as illegal in official statements without addressing the issue which sparked the civil disobedience campaign—Beijing failing to uphold its promise to allow truly democratic elections for the city’s leader.
Also, despite numerous occurrences of police brutality towards the protesters, the press, and even bystanders, the Hong Kong government maintains that police used “minimal force” to evict people from protest sites.