HK on brink of 'abyss' as Lam sues for calm

Top News | Phoenix Un 14 Aug 2019

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has warned that violent protests are pushing Hong Kong into an abyss where it will be "smashed into pieces."

Speaking before an Executive Council meeting, which ended its summer break two weeks early due to the unrest, Lam said Hong Kong entered an "extremely dangerous situation" in the past week.

"Please forget the disagreements, calm down, and think about our city and our home for one minute," Lam said as she choked back tears yesterday.

"Do you wish to steel yourself and push it into an abyss and smash it into pieces?"

Lam said the protests and noncooperation movements - such as the disruption of train operations, occupancy of the Cross Harbour Tunnel, attacks at police stations and the use of dangerous weapons such as petrol bombs and catapults - have caused large-scale damage in different districts.

Although the assemblies at the Hong Kong International Airport were relatively peaceful, protesters paralyzed the airport on Monday, she said.

The airport is of enormous importance to Hong Kong, Lam added.

She appealed for calm and once peace returns, she said "we'll start sincere dialogues, mend social rifts and reconstruct social harmony."

Asked about police decision to fire tear gas in the MTR Kwai Fong Station on Sunday, she defended the force, saying: "They have to guard the rule of law and protect safety of all people, including those in the MTR stations and trains in a split-second."

Lam said nobody wants to see others injured, in response to the woman whose right eye was damaged allegedly by police projectiles in Tsim Sha Tsui.

"I express my deep sympathy to this woman whose eye was injured and I hope she will recover soon, but this should still be investigated."

Lam urged the woman to report to the police about her injury, adding if conditions permit she "will be willing to visit this young woman."

She repeated that she has responded to the protesters' five demands, but "they were unhappy with the answers given."

When asked if she is still capable of leading Hong Kong and whether she has the autonomy to withdraw the now-suspended fugitive bill, Lam simply said she still has the trust of Beijing.

"We have considered all factors and came up with responses that we have reiterated over the past two months," Lam replied.

Legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said Lam defending police showed that the civil service had no control of the force.

Lam's approval rating, meanwhile, hit a new low - 27.9 compared to 30.1 two weeks ago - according to the latest poll by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute.

The satisfaction rate of police also dropped to 39.4, a record low since polls started in 2016.

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