Carrie Lam calls for views for annual Policy Address as stalemate remains

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that her team will "humbly listen" to people from "all walks of life".
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that her team will "humbly listen" to people from "all walks of life".ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

HONG KONG - While the deadlock between the government and the anti-extradition supporters drags on, the city's legislators are calling for views for the annual Policy Address to be delivered in October.

The government said on Wednesday (July 10) that it has launched the public consultation exercise for the address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam's third.

The embattled leader, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung and Financial Secretary Paul Chan will meet representatives from different sectors to hear their views.

"To continue to develop the economy and improve people's livelihood, we have to make plans together and work in concert," said Mrs Lam, who added that her team will "humbly listen" to people from "all walks of life".

"I sincerely invite members of the public to give their views on the Policy Address, so that we can harness the collective wisdom and insights to formulate policy initiatives to meet the needs of our people."

Associate Professor Dixon Sing of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology said the latest gesture "would not help" bridge the rifts in Hong Kong society.

He cited the June 12 protest where violent clashes erupted between a small group and the police outside the Legislative Council (LegCo), noting that police chief Stephen Lo had branded it as a riot and later said that at least five protesters will face related charges.

The clashes on June 12 led to the firing of rubber bullets and tear gas that left scores injured and dozens arrested.

Prof Sing noted: "The intransigence of the Hong Kong government and possibly Beijing government to retract the label entirely and the charges against some of the protesters, as well as to fully withdraw the Bill, I think all these are fuelling the anger, the sense of injustice and the fear among those protesters and their families."

 
 
 

He added that recent opinion polls showed that Hong Kongers regarded the force used by protesters storming LegCo as appropriate and proportionate to the level of threat the now-suspended Bill has posed.

The deadlock between the government and anti-extradition protesters looks set to stay as Mrs Lam's response and explanations on Tuesday that the Bill is "dead", among other things, were rebuffed by the opposition and student leaders of eight universities.

Meanwhile, the anti-extradition movement is showing signs of strain and fragmentation.

Online chatter and messages on Wednesday showed that a planned rally for July 21 in east Kowloon has been canned after organisers had differences in opinions that were made public.

The district-based Concern Group for Tseung Kwan O People's Livelihood said in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning that the march was cancelled as "citizens have managed to come up with more effective and cheaper ways of mobilising consumer's purchasing power" to support the anti-extradition movement.

The message came after a separate group calling themselves Amateurs of Tseung Kwan O said it had nothing to do with the July 21 rally and called for a rally on July 28 instead.

The confusion follows Sunday's (July 7) march in the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui to the West Kowloon high-speed rail station.

 
 
 

Netizens had earlier this week called for further protests on July 13, 14 and 21 in Sheung Shui, Shatin and Tseung Kwan O.

There was also a proposal circulated on Monday to "stress test" the Bank of China in a bid to put pressure on the city's pro-Beijing leaders.

The message that went viral asked people to collectively withdraw funds from the bank on Saturday to “stress test” its liquidity.

About 2,000 students at the University of Hong Kong have signed a petition that was on Wednesday passed to vice-chancellor Zhang Xiang for comments he made about the storming of LegCo by protesters last week. 

Mr Zhang had condemned the violence and vandalism at the council complex in his earlier statement. 

The petitioners said Mr Zhang failed in his duty to defend the students and assure them a better future. 

On Wednesday night, the organiser of a memorial for a protester who died, said 3,000 people gathered in Edinburgh Place in Central, singing prayers for her. 

In the past months, the city has been plagued with a series of largely peaceful protests, some of which turned violent as clashes broke out between the younger protesters and the police, resulting in dozens of injuries and arrests.