Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam meets the press but refuses to step down

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Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has met the press at 11 a.m. local time after over a million people turned out yesterday in a protest rally to oppose the government’s proposed amendment to the extradition law.

The extradition law has been criticized by Western governments and international organizations as a threat to the “one country, two systems” framework and a “terrible blow” to maintain Hong Kong’s status as a global trade and financial hub.

In Sunday’s demonstration, Carrie Lam was a clear target when people urged her to step down as chief executive.

She was 10 minutes late for the press conference. No sign yet that Carrie Lam is backing down.

Carrie Lam opens her speech in Cantonese referring to the protests yesterday, saying she is proud of Hong Kong’s rule of law and that the government respects the people’s freedom of speech.

She says the demonstration was held in a peaceful manner, which means Hong Kong people respect the rule of law. “I believe most of the protesters yesterday loved Hong Kong, and came out for the sake of the next generation.”

She mentions the clashes between the Hong Kong police and protesters last night, adding that Hong Kong police is taking “serious action” against the breaches of the law.

Lam reiterates that she wants to ensure Hong Kong isn’t a haven for fugitives and “We will ensure the legal protection on human rights”.

Lam said the government will continue to explain the need for extradition law. She says: “From what we saw in the protest rally yesterday, there are clearly still concerns among the people of Hong Kong over the proposed bill.”

About 12 minutes later, Carrie Lam repeats her message in English.

Lam says the march yesterday on the amendment has been conducted in a generally peaceful and organized way and it reflects the way of civilization in Hong Kong’s society.

Lam says her government will try to more clearly explain the law to the public. She says that the demonstration should help “refute” that rights and freedoms are being abridged in Hong Kong, saying they are “robust” as ever.

She says that the government’s communication work on the bill has to continue — “even after enactment of the bill.”

She mentions the “additional safeguards” that were introduced in the legislation. “we will make sure that all these additional safeguards will be legally binding.”

“The long-term goal is to still enter into long-term agreements on extradition with as many jurisdictions as possible,” Lam says, saying this will be a priority.

She thanks all citizens for their concern about the proposal. Lam has said she wants to clear up any confusion.

Carrie Lam takes some questions as the Q&A begins.

A question arises on whether she thinks she can ignore the will of the demonstrators.

“I and my team have not ignored any views expressed” on the extradition policy, Lam says, adding they have listened “attentively” and “humbly” to the suggestions. She references the changes that have already been made.

“There’s no question of us ignoring views expressed in society, yet Hong Kong has to move on,” she says. She says there are big gaps in “transnational crimes.”

“Nobody wants Hong Kong to be a fugitive offenders’ haven,” Lam says in defending the proposal.

Lam says she has worked to improve all areas of Hong Kong, not just on this issue. “I think I will continue to do this in my upmost ability,” she says, mentioning challenges to the economy. This may have been a response to calls for her to step down, which came from many of the protesters.

She says this bill is not just about the Mainland, it’s about putting in place a “case-by-case” extradition agreement with all of the jurisdictions with which Hong Kong doesn’t have agreements. Of course, the Mainland is the jurisdiction that many Hong Kong residents are concerned about. “This bill is not about the Mainland, alone,” she says.

Lam claims she “has not received” any orders from Beijing on this proposal.

She does say she was “the person” to communicate with Beijing. “They have agreed everything in the additional safeguards that concern Mainland China,” she says.

To reiterate, Hong Kong’s chief executive has said the government will continue with the extradition proposal and plans to move forward with the second reading on Wednesday.

Lam says the “intensity” of the discussion has been “quite unprecedented.” “There is very little merit to be gained to delay the bill,” she says, adding that would be more divisive to Hong Kong.

Most of the other questions directly center around the question “why you are not declaring to step down directly as a response to the call of the protesters”, which Carrie Lam refuses to answer but just walks away in shame.

The press conference lasted for 40 minutes.

Edited by staff

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