Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says protests hurt economy more than Sars, 2008 financial crisis

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that it was a consensus view that Hong Kong society would need time to heal, but for that to happen, the city needed a respite from more protests.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that it was a consensus view that Hong Kong society would need time to heal, but for that to happen, the city needed a respite from more protests. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has called for protesters to put aside their differences and let the city heal.

In a press conference on Friday (Aug 9) evening, Mrs Lam appealed for “calmness and rationality”, and said that the Hong Kong people should not let the actions of a “small minority” disrupt the city and destroy its economy.

Mrs Lam, who met the media together with Financial Secretary Paul Chan and Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau, said the press conference came after a meeting with 33 representatives of Hong Kong’s business community.

It was a consensus view that Hong Kong society will need time to heal, but for that to happen, Hong Kong needs a respite from more protests, she said.

Mrs Lam, who is due to deliver her annual policy address in October, said the government is considering bold measures to improve the economy and boost employment.

The economic downdraft caused by the protests - going into the 10th straight weekend - is worse than that during the Sars epidemic and the 2008 global financial crisis, she noted.

She also said the Executive Council's next meeting will be brought forward by half a month to next Tuesday.

Hong Kong police on Friday denied applications for four anti-government marches that were slated to take place this weekend in neighbourhoods such as Tai Po, Wong Tai Sin and Sham Shui Po.

Police had cited public safety reasons for rejecting the applications, but protest organisers said the reasons were inadequate and infringed on Hong Kong citizens' basic rights.


Protesters assembled beside Wong Tai Sin bus interchange to fold paper offerings at what has been billed as a "religious event". ST PHOTO: LIM YAN LIANG

 
 
 

At the press conference, Mrs Lam said her administration would not make concessions just to appease demonstrators.

Among the “five demands” that protesters have made of the Hong Kong government are a call for the full withdrawal of a controversial extradition Bill that originally triggered the protests, as well as universal suffrage for the chief executive and legislative council elections.

“As far as political solutions are concerned, I don’t think we should make concessions just to silence these violent protesters; we should do what is right for Hong Kong... that is, stop the violence so that we can move on,” she told reporters.

Once the violence has subsided, the government would then tackle “the more deep-seated issues” that were surfaced during the demonstrations, said Mrs Lam.