Several English language media organizations used the same expression last week when they reported that veteran politician Frederick Fung Kin-kee had decided to join the November 25 Legislative Council by-election for the Kowloon West district. The expression they used was “throw his hat into the ring”. To throw your hat into the ring means to announce your decision to join a competition. The expression is mostly used nowadays to announce a decision to take part in an election but it can also be used for taking part in other contests. It originated in the 19th century from the sport of boxing. The word “ring” in the expression refers to the boxing ring.
Nowadays, a boxing ring is a square platform with ropes on all sides. Boxers fight inside the square platform. But in the 19th century, the boxing ring was just an ordinary floor with spectators forming a circular ring around it. Anyone who wanted to challenge a boxer or a champion would actually throw his hat into the ring. You can also say “toss your hat into the ring”. The word “veteran” means a person who is very experienced in something. Fung Kin-kee is very experienced in politics. Novice (newcomer, inexperienced) politician Lau Siu-lai used to be the Legco member representing the Kowloon West district but she was disqualified last year for not reading her swearing-in as a Legco member properly. She has also thrown her hat into the ring to win back her old Legco seat.
Lau Siu-lai and Fung Kin-kee are both from the democracy camp. The democracy camp supports Lau Siu-lai and did not want Fung Kin-kee to throw his hat into the ring because having two democracy camp candidates would divide the camp’s voters, making it easier for the establishment camp candidate Chan Hoi-yan to win. By tossing his hat into the ring, Fung Kin-kee has broken ranks with the democracy camp. In the military or police, if you “break ranks”, it means you do not stay in line or do not follow an agreed order. But to “break ranks” in politics also means to disagree, disobey, or criticize the group you belong to.
上星期，幾個英語傳媒報道資深（veteran）政客馮檢基決定參選十一月二十五日立法會九龍西補選時，都用上了同一個習語。他們用的習語是“throw his hat into the ring”。To throw your hat into the ring意即宣佈參賽。這個習語現在多用來指宣佈參選，但它也可以用來指參加其他的比賽。習語來源自十九世紀的拳擊比賽，其中“ring”一字是指拳擊台（boxing ring）。
但在十九世紀，拳擊場（boxing ring）只是普通的地面，由觀眾圍着圓形的一個圈（ring）。任何想挑戰拳手或冠軍的人，會真的把他的帽子扔進拳擊圈內（throw his hat into the ring）。你也可以說是“toss your hat into the ring”。Veteran則是指某人在某範疇中經驗老到。馮檢基在政治事務中經驗豐富。政治新人（novice）劉小麗曾經是代表九西的立法會議員，但因為她在宣誓成為立法會議員時，並未正確地宣讀，上年被取消議員資格。她也宣佈參選（thrown her hat into the ring），以求贏回她之前的立法會議席。
劉小麗和馮檢基二人都是來自民主派陣營。泛民支持劉小麗，不想馮檢基參選（throw his hat into the ring），因為兩個泛民候選人會分化了民主派的選民，令建制派的候選人陳凱欣更易勝出。馮檢基宣佈參選（tossing his hat into the ring），就是跟民主派陣營分道揚鑣（broken ranks）。在軍隊或警隊中，若你 break ranks，那你就是沒有按隊形排好，又或不去服從一致的命令；然而，在政治中break ranks，則是指不認同、不服從或批評你所屬的群體。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧