HK leader Carrie Lam fights back tears as she warns protesters they are pushing city ‘into an abyss’

14-Aug-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s leader has warned protesters they are pushing the city “into an abyss” by attacking its institutions, in what she called attempts to “destroy the rule of law”.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the mass sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport, which forced the cancellation of all Monday flights from 4pm, as well as police station sieges and widespread road blocks during protests, had made the city no longer safe.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday morning before reconvening the Executive Council, her de facto cabinet, Lam said: “Hong Kong is seriously wounded. It will take a long time to recover.”

She asked protesters whether they wanted to “push Hong Kong into an abyss”.

 (South China Morning Post)

(South China Morning Post)

In a direct appeal to demonstrators, she said: “Let’s set aside differences and spend one minute to look at our city and our home. Could we bear to push it into an abyss where everything will perish?

“We need to object to violence and maintain the rule of law… When this all calms down, we will start to have sincere dialogues and rebuild harmony.”

Lam said she was worried about the city’s international image.

“From what happened in the past week, I am afraid that Hong Kong’s reputation, as a safe society that respects the rule of law, will be in a very dangerous [situation],” she said. “Hong Kong, as an open, free, inclusive, and economically stable city, will also suffer from all kinds of problems.”

On the airport’s effective closure on Monday, Lam said: “There is no need for me to elaborate on how important the international airport is to Hong Kong.

“Every day, a lot of residents go out and return to the city [through the airport], and many tourists and businesspeople use this transport hub.”

But she brushed aside questions about whether she would resign.

“I, as chief executive, will be responsible for rebuilding Hong Kong’s economy, for engaging as widely as possible, for listening as attentively as possible to my people’s grievances, and trying to help Hong Kong move on,” she said.

“That’s my very serious political commitment and my responsibility to the people of Hong Kong at this point in time.”

Asked if she would visit the injured woman who was shot in the eye during police clearances of protesters on Sunday, Lam said: “When it’s convenient, I’m willing to do so.”

“I’m sad about anyone injured during protests and violent acts. I hope that they will get well soon,” she added.

“Especially for this young woman, I appeal to her to report to the police so that we can find out the truth about what happened.”

But Lam declined to say if police had done anything wrong on Sunday and over the past two months.

On police’s firing of tear gas in Kwai Fong train station and the use of force on an escalator in Tai Koo station on Sunday, Lam said the force had to make difficult decisions.

“Officials like us have to make policy decisions. Similarly, police officers have to make judgments, and sometimes it’s hard… and it’s a dilemma for them,” she said, adding police officers could not turn a blind eye and had to enforce the law.

The chief executive also said police had been following guidelines and using minimum force when dealing with protesters.

Lam also declined to say if Beijing had been stopping her from meeting protesters’ demands, such as fully withdrawing the now-shelved extradition bill, and appointing a judge-led commission to look into the whole controversy.

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convenor of the pro-democracy camp, said Lam’s reluctance to answer the question was tantamount to confirming Beijing was running the city.

“She didn’t dare to refuse such a claim… I have to take it as clear indication that she is seriously reduced to a puppet form of government.”

Noting that Lam held back tears during the briefing, pan-democrat lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai said Lam was “weeping crocodile tears”, adding that she was the root cause of the crisis.

“We have to look into the root cause, which lies in the Lam government,” Fan said. “The only way to stop violence is Lam responding to the demands of protesters.”

Separately, 40 pro-Beijing lawmakers issued a joint statement on Tuesday to support the police, saying the force was stopping violence and chaos in the city.



Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post

Comments are closed.