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Tanya Chan Suk-chong

Tanya Chan Suk-chong is a 35-year old barrister, theater actress and a Civic Party founding member who is running in the District Council election later this month. She tells Winnie Yeung how she finds the passion – and the time – to do it all at once.
Nov 01, 2007

People are intrigued about me because of the strange combination – a lawyer, an actress and a politician.

I grew up in a single-parent family – my mother worked two jobs to support me.

I’ve enjoyed performing since I was very young. When I was 5, I sang in order to get more ice cream from my kindergarten teacher.

You don’t need to wear a different face to be an actress – the stage is the best platform to put myself out there.

People say I did imitations of political figures well in [Zuni Icosahedron’s political satire] “East Wing West Wing.” But my mother said, “You’re just playing yourself.”

I studied law because my mother told me to. You know how things went in those days — if you talked a lot, you should become a lawyer.

I never intended to go into politics. My first taste of politics was when I participated in the 1989 rally. My mother begged me not to go.

Then in 2003, I was one of the 500,000 who took to the streets. I also met [Civic Party leader] Audrey Eu while performing in “East Wing West Wing."

I admire Audrey because, although she sacrifices her career for politics, she no longer handles cases that take longer than three days.

People called me stupid for getting involved with politics in order to serve the community. “Go volunteer instead,” they said to me.

It does sound weird, but I reckon politics will allow me to make a difference.

Our policies on poverty are ridiculous. When my mother brought me up, she had two jobs, then one – and we moved from a housing estate to a private flat. My mother worked hard for us to get there. But things don’t work like that anymore.

Whoever says Hong Kong people aren’t ready for democracy is disrespecting us.

It just makes me angry – do you see the veins throbbing out of my neck?

But it’s easy to whine. To make a change, one needs to come up with solutions.

I love Hong Kong but I can’t pinpoint the reason. The only things I can pinpoint are the cons.

I have to cut back my working hours to fit everything in. Oh damn – I forgot that I also have to finish a master’s degree in law.

I am running for a seat to represent the 10,000 residents on The Peak. This is the very first time the democratic camp has sent someone up there to test the battlefield – what are the political stripes of these rich people? I am their guinea pig.

This election could show whether an honest person can be accepted into politics.

They say I’m crazy to jog on the Peak every weekend to meet the voters. At least I actually meet them, rather than just speaking to them through a microphone.

I also stand on the street corner at 6pm to welcome them back home. Then the next morning I go to the same spot so they can see me again – I think that’s how they feel I’m being sincere.

Losing the election wouldn’t bother me personally, but I care if the party loses its edge because of my loss.

Ten years in politics – that’s what I give myself. Then I’ll open a restaurant – a dai pai dong, like Tung Po Restaurant in North Point to serve people good, cheap food.

Everyone in the theater calls me Four-Eyes Chan. I love that.

Chan will be up against Mark Lin Man-kit and Louis Leung Wing-on at the district council election on November 18.