Lam stands ground after defeat

Top News | Cindy Wan 27 Nov 2019

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor admitted the landslide defeat of the pro-establishment camp in the district council election reflected public dissatisfaction with the government but she offered no new concessions to protesters.

Lam said the high turnout rate reflected people's view on different social issues.

"I would readily accept that - deficiencies in governance and the unhappiness with the time taken to deal with the current unstable environment and to end violence," she said yesterday.

She added the views and opinions expressed in the election were "quite diverse."

"There are people who want to express the view that they could no longer tolerate the violence on the streets, there are people who felt that the government has not handled competently the legislative exercise and its aftermath," she said.

As for the defeat of the pro-establishment camp, Lam admitted it was implicated by her administration's way of governing.

"When the general mood is they have a lot of unhappiness about the way we govern, about the ways we roll out policies, then perhaps they [the pro-government camp] will be affected by that sort of mood," she said.

As to the protesters' call for the government to meet their five demands, Lam insisted engaging in dialogue is the way out from the deadlock.

"The next step to go forward is really, as you have put it, to engage the people, and we have started public dialogue with the community."

But then she said the unstable, chaotic situation does not allow her to initiate the engagement, adding she will do it when society is peaceful.

Instead of an independent commission of inquiry to scrutinize police enforcement, Lam said a committee to look for the cause of the social unrest will be formed.

"Like in other places' experience - particularly in the United Kingdom after the 2011 Tottenham riots - we are now modeling on that arrangement to set up an independent review committee to look at the causes of the social unrest which has lasted for so long," she said.

"To identify the underlying problems - social, economic or even political, and to recommend measures that the government should take."

Following days of relative calm, protests resumed yesterday in Kowloon Bay, where 200 people blocked roads during lunchtime. The protesters, many in business attire, also crossed the junction between Wang Chiu Road and Sheung Yuet Road repeatedly, attempting to create a traffic congestion.

Some placed makeshift roadblocks on Sheung Yuet Road and Wang Kwun Road before riot police arrived to warn them the assembly was illegal.

During the standoff, a man held a loaf of "Life Bread" - the brand name of bread - in front of officers in answer to a cop mocking protesters in Polytechnic University.

The cop was filmed teasing protesters that all they could eat on campus is Life Bread while officers can eat hotpot in Shenzhen after work.

The crowd dispersed peacefully at 2pm.

Another lunchtime protest was held at International Finance Centre in Central, where some 100 white-collar demonstrators gathered.

cindymt.wan@singtaonewscorp.com

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