Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam promises ‘platform for dialogue’ after peaceful rally

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a news conference in Hong Kong, China, on August 20, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has promised to “establish a platform for dialog,” following a peaceful protest in the region on Sunday.

Following weeks of violent protests, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Hong Kong peacefully on Sunday in the 11th week of demonstrations.

“I sincerely hope that this was the beginning of society returning to peace and staying away from violence,” Lam said Tuesday, referring to the peaceful protest.

“We will immediately start the work to establish a platform for dialog. This dialog, I hope, will be based on a mutual understanding and respect and find a way out for today’s Hong Kong,” she added.

Unrest began in Hong Kong in June, when people started taking to the streets to protest a proposed bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited and stand trial abroad.

Even though the government later dropped the bill, the protests continued.

“The second question I have repeatedly replied on various locations and I can give you this very clear commitment at the political level is that the bill is dead,” Lam said, stressing, “There is no plan to revive the bill, especially in light of the public concerns.”

More protests are planned in the upcoming days, including one by MTR subway workers on Wednesday, secondary school students on Thursday, and accountants on Friday.
The protesters have previously also demanded Lam’s resignation and the establishment of an independent investigation of alleged use of force by police.

Lam said the police watchdog had formed a task force to probe complaints.

The unrest has impacted the economy of Hong Kong, a financial hub in Asia, and Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury James Lau has said that the likelihood of recession — the first in a decade — is “quite considerable.”

“The Hong Kong economy is facing the risk of downturn. We can see this from the data in the first half. Actually, I think the data in the first half has not fully reflected the seriousness of the problem,” Lam said.

Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997.

China has said foreign countries, mainly the United States and Britain, have been provoking the protesters by issuing statements of support. Beijing has asked the two countries to stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.