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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Hong Kong leader apologizes to protesters


Hong Kong’s chief executive on Tuesday conceded that her government’s response to protests against the amendment was not appropriate.

“I reflected deeply over the issue and I have to show much responsibility […] I offer my most sincere apology,” pro-Beijing Carrie Lam said at a news conference, aired by TRT World.

Read More: Hong Kong protests partially successful: Extradition bill debate delayed

Lam, who leads a legislative council of 70 members, said that she needs to do more “to connect to the people”, especially youth.

“I understand and realize that I need to do more to connect people [although] I never spared any effort to serve the public,” she said.

Her government reacted with a heavy hand to public protests which erupted against a proposed amendment to a law that would allow the transfer of suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.

Asked why she neither resigned nor withdrew the proposed amendments to the extradition bill, Lam said the fact that the bill was suspended last week showed she was “listening” to the demands.

“Unless the government was able to address concerns about the proposed laws we will not proceed with the legislative exercise again,” she said.

“I will work harder to secure support of the public,” she added.

“There is more anger now as none of the five demands have been acted upon,” Chan said

Lam said that she was saddened by learning that several journalists and protests were injured in the conflicts. “I hope that they recover soon.”

Up until 1996, Hong Kong was a British colony. At present, it remains an autonomous Chinese territory, which makes Beijing responsible for its foreign and defense policies.

According to the organizers, the proposed law drew “two million people” out on streets of Hong Kong saying it will harm freedom, as people “will be easily arrested and sent to China for prosecution”.

“Hong Kong is our home… it is only by walking together, staying closely together that we bring hope [to our home],” Lam said.

Progressive Lawyers Group leader Angeline Chan said Lam has not acted on the popular five demands that came up during the protests.

“There is more anger now as none of the five demands have been acted upon,” Chan said.

She said that people have called on the Lam government to drop the amendments to the Hong Kong extradition ordinance, not to press charges against protesters, to withdraw her description of protests as riots, to investigate use of excessive force by Hong Kong police and that Lam herself steps down.

Hong Kong government had proposed amendment to an ordinance in February.

“If the amendment to ordinance is passed, which most likely will pass through since pro-establishment lawmakers are in majority, any person sought by China will be extradited easily — but what is more concerning is the new law will not have sufficient safeguards,” Chan said.

Hong Kong currently has an extradition treaty with 20 countries including the U.S., Canada and New Zealand.

Anadolu with additional input from GVS News Desk