Lam announces four actions

By Wang Cong, Yang Sheng in Hong Kong and Chen Qingqing in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/4 23:03:40

Goodwill aimed at starting dialogue, stopping violence

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Wednesday afternoon announced a four-action plan, including the formal withdrawal of an extradition bill and the creation of a platform for dialogue, in a bid to move the city forward from over two months of unrest that has "shocked and saddened" the Hong Kong residents.

In a televised speech, Lam also vowed to strictly enforce the law against violent and illegal acts, saying that such violence undermines the "very foundation" of Hong Kong and is not conducive to solving the current impasse.

As part of the plan, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government will withdraw an extradition bill that has been used by anti-government and radical forces to launch violence in Hong Kong. Though she had already said the bill is "dead" in June, the formal withdrawal is to "fully allay public concerns," as Lam said in her speech.

The chief executive also named two new members - former director of education Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping and lawyer Paul Lam Ting-kwok - to the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), which handles complaints of police practices. She said she will also pursue dialogue with the public by visiting communities and inviting community leaders and experts to review Hong Kong's "deep-seated problems."

"Incidents over these past two months have shocked and saddened Hong Kong people. We are very anxious about Hong Kong, our home. We hope to find a way out of the current impasse and unsettling times," Lam said.

A man watches the televised speech of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam in an appliance store in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Goodwill gesture  

The chief executive's plan represents a concrete step toward ending violence in the streets, and violent protesters should seriously heed the goodwill gesture and stop riots, Hong Kong lawmakers and experts said. 

"I hope after this, the protesters could also show goodwill and stop making violent moves for society to restore the peace," said Ho Kai-ming, a pro-establishment member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, noting that the withdrawal of the extradition bill should be sufficient to starting a dialogue.

Though anti-government forces used the extradition bill, which was introduced to close loopholes in the city's extradition law and bring criminals to justice, to start violence, the protests have since veered into something that, officials in Beijing say, resembles a color revolution with unreasonable demands.

In her speech on Wednesday, Lam also responded to what's known as the "five demands" of the protesters. On setting up a commission of inquiry into the police response to the protests, Lam said such a move is unnecessary because such matters are best handled by the "well-established" IPCC.

On stopping the characterization of the protests as riots, Lam said that characterizing them as such has no legal effect and that each prosecution will be based on the evidence, relevant law and prosecution code. On the call to drop charges against those arrested, she said such a call is against the rule of law and "not acceptable."

Reporters gather at the main gate of the Government House of Hong Kong Wednesday afternoon after the local media reported the HKSAR government will announce four actions, including the formal withdrawal of the extradition bill. Photo: Yang Sheng/GT

Fighting violence

"Regardless of our grievances, or the depth of discontent towards the government, we cannot agree or accept that violence is a solution to our problems," the chief executive said. "Our foremost priority is to end the violence, to safeguard the rule of law and to restore order and safety in society."

She said the HKSAR government will strictly enforce the law against violent and illegal acts. Her remarks also followed a step-up by the Hong Kong Police over the past few days in response to illegal, violent protests. The police said on Wednesday that it has arrested more than 1,100 people since June 9, for offenses such as illegal assembly, riots and possessing offensive weapons.

"I respect the decision of Lam and she, of course, has a sense of the overall situation and hopes to stabilize the city. I urge the protesters and the opposition camp to stop it, and understand that enough is enough," Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong and a Hong Kong member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, told the Global Times. "If they don't know when to stop and continue their violence, they would have to swallow the bitter consequences."

The plan was also announced a day after Lam on Tuesday pushed back speculations that she wanted to quit but did not have a choice. "I have never even contemplated [discussing] resignation with the central people's government," Lam said at a press briefing.

The move also followed fresh support from the central government. On Tuesday, Yang Guang, a spokesperson for the office, again expressed the central government's full support for the HKSAR government and Lam to take "all necessary measures" to stop the violence and riots.


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