Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor vowed to deal with violent acts in accordance with the law after anti-extradition bill protesters stormed Beijing’s Liaison Office in Western District and thugs brutally attacked citizens at the MTR station in Yuen Long on Sunday night.
Lam, accompanied by Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung and about a dozen other officials, told reporters on Monday afternoon that the government does not condone violent acts.
“Violence is not a solution to any problem. Violence will only breed more violence,” Lam said. “At the end of the day, the whole of Hong Kong and the people will suffer as a result of the loss of law and order in Hong Kong.”
Hundreds of thousands of people joined a mass rally on Sunday afternoon to express their discontent with the government’s handling of the issues surrounding the now-suspended extradition bill.
After the rally ended, some of the protesters proceeded to the Liaison Office in Sai Wan and vented their anger through acts of vandalism.
They later clashed with police in the Sheung Wan area, forcing police officers to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.
Almost at the same time, a group of men wearing white clothes and helmets and armed with rods, canes and brooms stormed the MTR Station in Yuen Long and attacked black-clad citizens believed to have returned from the protest march.
At least 45 people were injured, including commuters, journalists and a lawmaker. Some were hospitalized.
In the media conference, Lam said the storming of the Liaison Office by some radical protesters, who defaced the national emblem, was a blatant challenge to national sovereignty, adding that such acts not only touched the bottom line of the “one country, two systems” principle but also hurt the national pride.
Lam pledged the government would seriously follow up on the incident in accordance with the law.
As for the violent acts in Yuen Long, the chief executive described what happened as shocking. She slammed the assailants for having shown blatant disregard for the law by assaulting citizens and railway passengers.
She said she asked the police chief to spare no effort in arresting the offenders and offered her sincere sympathies to those who were injured.
However, Lam dismissed accusations that the government and the police had colluded with the violent attackers as groundless, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
During the news conference, a reporter noted that Lam condemned the violent attack on the Liaison Office before mentioning the incident in Yuen long, and pointedly asked her if she thinks the defacing of the national emblem was something more serious than the fact that citizens’ personal safety was put at risk.
Lam said there was no need to be overly worried over the order that the two incidents were mentioned.
She said that while it is important to ensure people’s lives are well protected, citizens also agree that it is important and maybe even more important that the “one country, two systems” principle can continue to be successfully implemented.
In response to other questions, Lam said she was deeply concerned over the escalation of violence in recent weeks, adding that she and her team will continue to endeavor to get to the roots of discontent in society so that governance will meet public expectations.
She called on the people to work with the government to make the city better.
Commenting on Lam’s remarks, Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin criticized Lam for not being qualified to say that “violence will only breed more violence” because she is the one who spurred people to resort to violence by ignoring their demands.
Separately, Executive Council convenor Bernard Charnwut Chan and six other non-official members held a media session on Monday afternoon.
They condemned the clashes in Sheung Wan and the attacks in Yuen Long, while hoping that police could soon arrest the offenders and bring them to justice.
Chan also said the chief executive can always change the members of her Executive Council and add new members at any time.
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