Student unions of tertiary institutions have made it clear that they will participate in a dialogue with Hong Kong’s top leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor only if she agrees to two conditions.
Responding to comments made by Lam on Tuesday that she is ready for talks with students about the extradition bill controversy, representatives from nine higher educational institutions said a precondition for the dialogue is an amnesty to all those who took part in the anti-extradition bill campaign that started with a June 9 rally.
Another condition is that the meeting should be held in an open and fair manner, with representatives from various sectors of society and members of the press allowed to join in, the student unions said.
A meeting with Lam is possible only if the two preconditions are met, they said.
The student representatives, meanwhile, also urged Lam to respond sincerely to the five demands made by members of the public in the wake of the extradition bill disaster.
The five demands were: complete withdrawal of the legislative proposal, drooping all charges against the protesters, retraction of a categorization of June 12 clashes in Admiralty as a “riot”, setting up an independent inquiry into the police tactics against protesters, and implementation of genuine universal suffrage in the city.
Last week, the student unions of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) rejected an invitation from the government to a “small-scale and closed-door” meeting on the ground that the meeting was not an open dialogue with citizens.
On Tuesday Lam told media that the government has a “duty to improve the situation”, reiterating her July 1 comment that the administration “would adopt a new governance style in order to ensure that we are able and capable of listening to views from different sectors before we implement policies.”
Lam said she “now readily [welcomes and agrees] to do this open dialogue with our student representatives”, and that she hopes there won’t be “any prerequisites” to the dialogue, from both sides.
Student representatives said sitting down with Lam will end up being nothing but a public relations show if both sides are not in an equal position.
By suggesting that the student unions come to talks without any conditions, the Lam administration is showing that it is not sincere about listening to the public’s demands, the unions said.
Among the youth leaders, Jacky So Tsun-fung, president of the CUHK students union, expressed doubts about Lam’s assurance that the extradition bill is dead.
The chief executive is playing word games, the student leader said, accusing Lam of lacking in sincerity.
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