Mon, Jun 17, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Lam apologizes for causing ‘conflict’

PACKED ISLAND:Five hours after the start of the march, thousands were still gathering at Victoria Park to begin the walk to the Legislative Council

Agencies, Hong Kong

Protesters take part in a demonstration yesterday demanding the withdrawal of an extradition bill and the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Photo: Reuters

In a statement issued last night by her office, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) apologized to the public with “utmost sincerity and humility,” after the second massive protest in a week over a proposed extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Lam’s statement, reiterating that the government has stopped work on the bill, came as hundreds of thousands of people clogged the streets in central Hong Kong dressed in black to demand that she step down, a day after she suspended the bill.

The marchers demanded that Lam first scrap an extradition bill and then resign.

Organizers said the protest might be larger than last week’s demonstration, when they estimated more than 1 million people filed through the central part of Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong police said that rally drew 240,000 people.

At 7:30pm, five hours after the start of yesterday’s march, thousands of people were still gathering at Victoria Park to begin the nearly 3.2km walk to the Legislative Council building, in the Admiralty district.

As night fell the huge crowds were still filling multiple major thoroughfares, including outside the legislature, with the police seemingly ceding the streets to the jubilant masses.

“For the public to express their opinions in a peaceful and rational way, the chief executive clearly heard and agreed that this is precisely the spirit of mutual respect and harmony that Hong Kong has always demonstrated as a civilized, free, open and pluralistic society. The government values — and cherishes these core values — of Hong Kong,” the statement from Lam’s office said.

“In view of the strong disparate views of the community, the government has stopped the work of the Legislative Council General on the revision of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. It is hoped that this will allow the community to restore calm and avoid any harm. The government reiterated that there is no timetable for restarting the process,” she said.

“Many members of the public are disappointed and saddened. The chief executive apologizes to the public and promises to accept it with the utmost sincerity and humility,” she added.

As the crowd choked the official route of the march, protesters began spilling into other roadways, including Harcourt Road in Admiralty and those in the Wan Chai district.

A crowd of people chanted the Cantonese word for “Retract!” over and over, a message to Lam to permanently scrap the bill.

One cafe along the route posted a sign to its front window: “Everyone keep up the hard work ... if you are tired, come in and we’ll give you a glass of water.”

One bright yellow sign carried by a protester in Admiralty read: “HK police force, you should be ashamed to call yourself Hongkongers.” Another read: “Salute to HK young people.”

Earlier in the day, there was a mass rendition of Do You Hear the People Sing?, the anthem from the musical Les Miserables.

The rally drew marchers both young and old, some pushing strollers or carrying slumbering infants. Few wore masks or seemed to be trying to hide their identities, in contrast with demonstrations on Wednesday, when participants expressed worries over possible retribution from the authorities.

Many protesters wore ribbons on their shirts and carried placards showing protesters who had been beaten bloody on Wednesday.

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