Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says protesters 'paralysing' the city are selfish

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam addresses a news conference in Hong Kong, China on Nov 11, 2019.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam addresses a news conference in Hong Kong, China on Nov 11, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS
Carrie Lam was speaking hours after police shot a protester, a man was set alight and volleys of tear gas were fired at lunch time in the heart of the financial centre in some of the most dramatic scenes to grip the city during months of unrest.

HONG KONG (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday (Nov 12) said protesters who are trying to "paralyse" the city were extremely selfish and hoped all universities and schools would urge students not to participate in violence.

She also praised residents who volunteered to clear roadblocks set up by protesters. She said she respected everyone who went to work despite the difficult conditions.

Mrs Lam also sought to allay fears the city would cancel or delay district council elections Nov 24 due to the increasing violence.  

“To this day, we still hope we can hold the election and try our very best to do so because it is an important election with the rights of 4 million voters to respect and safeguard,” she said.

“But there’s an issue of safety and order, so we have to work hard to satisfy these two requirements.”

Mrs Lam was speaking a day after police shot a protester and a man was set on fire in some of the most dramatic scenes to grip the city during the more than five months of civil unrest.

On Monday, Mrs Lam said that the violence roiling the former British colony exceeded protesters' demands for democracy and demonstrators are now the people's enemy.

Protesters clashed with police into the early hours of Tuesday after fierce skirmishes throughout Monday. The city was bracing for further disruptions a day after many workers were sent home early and shops and restaurants shut by the evening as the violence escalated.

An editorial in the state-backed China Daily newspaper condemned the violence on Monday and took aim at the "leniency of Hong Kong judges".

"Allowing (protesters) to apply for bail on easy terms and handing down extraordinarily light sentences has also served to encourage inhuman terrorist acts," it said.