Friday, 23 August, 2019

Activists reject Hong Kong leader's apology

Xi Jinping Xi Jinping. File
Patty Aguilar | 20 June, 2019, 08:10

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam offered an apology Tuesday for the political crisis and unrest sparked by a proposed law that would allow extraditions to mainland China.

"I will not proceed again with this legislative exercise if these fears and anxieties could not be adequately addressed", AFP quoted her as saying.

An extradition bill that would have sent criminal suspects to communist China for prosecution seems to be dead for now, but Hong Kong's student protest movement against the heavy-handed rule of Beijing has come back to life.

But she did not give in to protester's demands that she leave office over her handling of the controversial bill.

The vote was the result of a motion moved by Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan, which said that the Hong Kong leader had misled the public and the worldwide community about the proposed extradition bill.

It was the third time in four days that Lam had softened her stance since she announced the suspension of the bill on Saturday and after about two million people demonstrated on two consecutive Sundays in the city.

"I personally have to shoulder much of the responsibility", Lam said.

Lam said that his Taiwanese visa expires next month, "but I know I can not go back to Hong Kong".

"Carrie Lam is continuing to lie", said Jimmy Sham, the convener of the Civil Human Rights Front. Experts say she's not under pressure from Beijing to resign because there are no obvious replacements.

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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam plans a news conference Tuesday afternoon following massive protests against an extradition bill and calls for her to resign.

Police used tear gas, steel batons and rubber bullets to subdue protesters during scuffles outside the government headquarters last Wednesday.

Following two mass public demonstrations against the extradition bill in the past two weeks, Lam said she was saddened for those who were injured, including demonstrators, police officers and journalists.

Starry Lee Wai-king, a legislator and chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the largest party in the Legislative Council, said she hoped the incident would quiet down soon as there are numerous important economic and livelihood issues to be addressed.

Asked why she neither resigned nor withdrew the proposed amendments to the extradition bill, Lam said the fact that the bill was suspended last week showed she was "listening" to the demands. But she said that as long as there were public disputes over its contents, legislative work on it would not be resumed.

Ms Lam insists the legislation is needed to uphold justice and ensure Hong Kong is not a magnet for fugitives. Not only Hong Kong's citizens and journalists, but even world leaders are also are asking, what's going on? She said that she does not have the authority to judge what happened, but that she will act on Police Commissioner Stephen Lo's latest clarification saying that the protestors were not involved in a "riot".

Many protesters and pro-democracy legislators call it an "evil bill" or "evil law", which they see as an infringement on Hong Kong's autonomy, which was promised to the former British colony until 2047.

When the United Kingdom turned Hong Kong over to China in 1997, those freedoms were supposed to be protected, but residents see the extradition law as one in a series of attempts to take them away.

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