Being a woman also makes it easier for her to forge closer relationships with female residents in her constituency. For instance, they may tell her about the problems they encounter as women, about their families and experiences of domestic violence.
As for her own family, Mok’s work as a district councillor meant she could not always put it first. Fortunately, she has had the continuous support of her husband and her parents. Although her parents think being a district councillor is hard work, they have always supported their daughter’s career. Her husband, who is a businessman, also supports her and helps to take care of their children by adopting a flexible work schedule.
“It is important for politicians to get support from their family as there is a tension [between work and family] most of the time and they are always occupied by work,” she says.
Mok says she always respects her family by asking their opinions on different issues – including whether to accept the leadership of the ADPL in January this year. The transition from district councillor to party chair has not been easy.
Mok says she wants to first reposition a party that has always advocated a “talking and fighting” approach – that is communicating with authorities while fighting for social change. It has always been on the moderate end of the pan-democrat spectrum. But Mok thinks the “talking” part of the formula is at a dead end in the current climate. The current government, she says does not want to communicate or negotiate.
“Leung Chun-ying is not going to communicate and he is trying to sow discord [in society]. There is no way to talk now,” she says.
She sees no way out of this situation until there is a new Chief Executive in Hong Kong. So although the ADPL will stick to its relatively moderate approach to politics, a tougher stance can also be expected under Mok’s leadership.
Apart from repositioning the party, the new chair is also keen to recruit and promote more young people and lower the average age of the ADPL ranks. She thinks it is a trend for members of the younger generation to take the reins in Hong Kong’s political parties.
“ADPL has 30 years of history and most people only know its former presidents Frederick Fung Kin-kee and Bruce Liu Sing-lee, who are the seniors from the older generation,” she adds.
Mok describes herself as belonging to the “middle generation” and wants the public to know that the ADPL is not just made up of veterans like Fung, and can help to nurture young politicians. She hopes politicians from her generation can act as a bridge between their seniors and those in the generations below them.
In order to achieve this goal, Mok tries to communicate and hold discussions with the young politicians in the party.
“When we have experienced more, it is always easy for us to ban what the youngsters advocate and ask them to give up on their suggestions. I always ask myself not to do this. This stops youngsters from expressing their opinions,” she says.
She has adopted and used ideas from the younger members, such as spray-painting eye-catching big-character posters to use at protests instead of using traditional banners and petitions.
She has also adopted the idea of raising political issues in the community.
“Many Hong Kong people are slowly-boiling frogs. Many of the values and issues they saw as problematic before, they now think are normal,” she says citing the case of missing bookseller Lee Po.
Mok says incidents like the missing booksellers may be common in the Mainland but are unheard of here. She is afraid that Hong Kong people may come to regard such incidents as normal in 10 years. Therefore, she thinks district councillors should introduce politics into the community and take the lead in discussing policies and injustice with local residents.
For Mok, the key is to avoid making residents feel their situation is hopeless and make them believe things can be changed.
“An outlook of despair is actually very dangerous to society,” she warns.