Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor says she did not meet with any law-breaking demonstrators during her dialogue sessions, and she underscored her support of the police in stopping violence.
"We did not engage in conversation with the 'valiant protesters' - if that means those who resorted to violence and destroyed social peace. We did not," she said before heading to an Executive Council meeting yesterday.
Lam has been criticized for not supporting the police after Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah said on October 20 that she had talked to "valiant protesters."
Lam said yesterday the officials did not question people over their stance and their position in the protests during a dialogue.
"I can tell everyone that none of the attendees have told us that he did those so-called valiant acts," she said.
Reiterating her support for the police, Lam said the force has been under tremendous pressure in the past four months.
Most of the officers, including those guarding Government House, need to work more than 10 hours a day, she said.
A frontline officer told her the police can "sweat and bleed" to maintain order, but urged her not to let them "cry over worrying" for the safety of their family members, Lam said.
"The police are standing on the foremost frontline to maintain Hong Kong's security, so that the stance is clear - I must support the police," she said.
"Bald-head sergeant" Lau Chak-kei publicly criticized Lam in a Weibo post on October 21, saying it would be unimaginable if Lam had really talked to the radical protesters.
"Is there still the rule of law? How am I going to enforce the law in the future?" he wrote.
Meanwhile, when asked if the government will provide assistance to murder suspect Chan Tong-kai to turn himself in to the Taiwanese authorities, Lam said Hong Kong's law enforcement agency has approached Taiwan to see what arrangements could be made to enable Chan to return to the island.
She said the matter has been complicated by "the very different and confusing messages" from Taiwan and so Chan and his family are trying to clarify these messages before he could make up his mind on the timing to go to Taiwan.
"He is a free man, so our facilitation has to fully respect that he's a free man, he has a free will," she said.
She urged society and Taiwan authorities treat the issue as one involving "a guilty person" feeling the need to face legal punishment.
On a Financial Times report that Beijing is planning to install an interim chief executive to replace her, Lam quoted the ministry of foreign affairs as saying that it was "a very malicious, and maybe politically driven speculation or rumor."
That came amid more bad news for Lam.
A Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute's latest research found Lam's popularity stood at 20.2 out of 100 from October 17 to 23, down 2.4 from the previous poll in mid-October. A total of 1,038 responded to the phone survey.
Controversial pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu said he "felt pity for the British" after Anglia Ruskin University stripped him of his honorary degree.
The solicitor-lawmaker was granted an honorary doctorate of law by his alma mater in 2011 in acknowledgment of his legal career and political work, but the university confirmed to the British press Monday that it had stripped Ho of the honorary degree because of his conduct.
The move came after David Alton, a member of the House of Lords, wrote to the university to voice concern over Ho's controversial remarks on the current unrest in Hong Kong and toward other lawmakers.
Ho yesterday expressed regret at the university's decision.
"From this trivial matter we can see that they have left behind the rule of law and [the principle] of following proper procedures," he said.
"In this heavily politicized time, [the university has] abandoned the rules it values. I feel pity for the British," he said.
"I am a Hong Kong legislative councillor, a pro-establishment member who insists on loving the country and the city.
"During the anti-fugitive bill movement, my actions and remarks are based on facts and reality. [I am] daring to fight against Hong Kong independence and traitors."
Anglia Ruskin University said Ho's honorary doctorate was removed after an investigation into his conduct.
"ARU's honorands must be positive role models to our students, alumni and staff, and to the communities we serve. Mr Ho's conduct since he was honored has caused increasing concern," it said.
Ho graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 1984 at the public university in East Anglia.
It previously praised Ho as an "outstanding ambassador" for the school in Hong Kong and introduced him as "a top name in law who has achieved great success" on its website.
Ho's profile has been removed from the website completely.
Lord Alton had earlier pressured the university to revoke Ho's honorary doctorate after a meeting with activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung.
In a letter to university vice chancellor Roderick Watkins Saturday, Alton said he was struck after hearing about Ho's extremist remarks from Wong.
"His [Ho's] comparison of homosexuality with bestiality and his encouragement to people to 'kill' protester cockroaches live on air is simply disgusting," Alton wrote.
Controversial pro-Beijing lawmaker Ho has come under fire since he was alleged to have backed the Yuen Long mob attacks on July 21.
He became infamous for saying same-sex marriages will lead to bestiality in April 2017, insulting lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching with inappropriate sexual comments on October 14 and calling Chinese University student protesters "cockroaches" on Thursday.
In the latest apparent response from protesters, another office of Ho's in Melody Garden in Tuen Mun was vandalized in the wee hours yesterday.
Two protesters hurled petrol bombs into the closed office at around 2am, resulting in a burn mark on a glass door.