Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday appealed to the public to calm down, set aside differences on political issues and jointly oppose escalating violence that is pushing the city into “the abyss of destruction”. Lam said developments over the past week had validated her concerns that Hong Kong was in a dangerous situation.
Meeting reporters ahead of the resumption of customary Executive Council meetings every Tuesday, Lam appealed to the public again, in a voice trembling with emotions, to pause and think.
“The top priority now is to oppose violence and safeguard the rule of law,” Lam said. “Rational discussions will start after law and order have been restored. And that’s when we can mend what has been torn apart.”
The CE’s top advisory body decided to convene two weeks ahead of schedule as Lam said she needed all help with these difficult times that Hong Kong was facing.
She reminded people how Hong Kong had been torn apart by violent protests since June 9 that saw radicals clashing with riot police and residential and business areas turning into war zones.
Lam said things had come to such a pass that Hong Kong people couldn’t go to work on time and refrained from leaving home on weekends as they were never sure when violence would break out.
“The chief executive’s responsibility is that Hong Kong remains a safe and law abiding city. Because without the rule of law, without law and order in Hong Kong, it is extremely difficult for the city’s 7 million people to live in peace. This requires my cooperation with the law enforcement agencies, and this also means that my responsibilities include rebuilding Hong Kong’s economy, in addition to listening as intently as possible to my people’s grievances,” Lam told reporters.
Lam said lawbreaking activites “in the name of freedom” were damaging the rule of law and that the Asian financial hub’s recovery from anti-government protests could take a long time.
“Police have had a very difficult time in the past two months, to enforce the law and to ensure law and order prevailed in Hong Kong. As it is apparent to most people, police operations cannot be determined by someone like myself. Especially, when policemen have to make on-the-spot judgment. They (police) have their code of conduct to follow, and that requires (application of) the lowest level of force possible,” Lam said.
The city has seen large-scale protests over the past week. The public transportation system was disrupted and major roads were blocked with radicals clashing violently with police across multiple locations. On Monday, an unlawful demonstration at the airport forced cancellation of all flights after 3:30 pm.