Hong Kong – On Sunday (June 16), an estimated two million citizens clad in black took to the streets calling for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation following her refusal to suspend the controversial extradition bill.
In her statement on Sunday evening, Lam expressed “deep sorrow and regret” but not for the political turmoil caused by her refusal to suspend the bill. While she acknowledged the protests, Lam sent off mixed messages with her non-apology and defiant government style.
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In Lam’s official statement, Lam “admitted that shortcomings in the government’s work has led to a lot of conflict and disputes in Hong Kong society and has disappointed and distressed many citizens.”
The statement added that, “The chief executive apologises to the citizens and promises to accept criticism with the most sincere and humble attitude.”
But the public was not content. Bonnie Leung, one of the protest organisers, said that Lam’s statement did not address the critical issues such as police brutality on citizens.
“Hong Kong people are tired of being lied to by their representatives. The more sincere you say you are, the more anger we have. Her apology just added fuel to the fire,” Leung said in a report by Al Jazeera.
The massive protest held last June 16 called for Lam’s resignation and full withdrawal of the extradition bill. Protesters also rallied against the “unnecessary force” that Hong Kong police used to disperse the crowd.
Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and beatings to disperse the peaceful protesters. The police chief has even admitted to using “medical records to search hospitals for protesters.”
Analysts and critics agree that Lam has lost the public’s trust. An anonymous legislator told the South China Morning Post that Lam could have sought to relieve tensions by pacifying the citizens but did the exact opposite.
“Her interpretation of things on Saturday was not ideal … While she could not accept people’s calls for her to resign, she also suggested that the people were wrong. She sounded too tough,” the anonymous legislator said.
Lam, backed by Beijing, insisted that her resolute judgment about the bill was justified and logical which she said during a press conference last Saturday.
Even Lam’s supporters agreed that she should have apologised to the public for her treatment of the issue. New People’s Party legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, one of the supporters of the bill, said that “Whether the bill was problematic or not, it has caused so many people to worry. The business sector also suffered losses because even a shopping centre had to close down on Wednesday … These developments warrant an apology to Hong Kong people.”
Political scientist and teacher of public policy Cheung Chor-yung described Lam’s handling of the extradition law issue as her having a “total lack of political judgment.”
Former Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said that, “Carrie Lam’s position is now untenable and she must withdraw the bill, because if she doesn’t, we will come out again next Sunday and the Sunday after that. She can’t withstand the pressure.”
Citizens, opposition parties, and non-government organizations promised to continue protesting in the streets until Lam resigns and the bill is withdrawn./TISG