Only 98 District Council members showed up at a meeting called by the government as part of its efforts to reach out to the community to ease the current unrest.
That’s just a little over 20 percent of the 458 district councilors invited to the gathering at the Central Government Offices in Admiralty on Wednesday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The meeting was a prelude to the direct dialogue with Hong Kong citizens that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is set to start next week in a bid to gather their views and sentiments about the political crisis.
Besides Lam, among the senior officials who attended Wednesday’s meeting were Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen and Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong.
Undersecretary for Home Affairs Jack Chan Jick-chi acted as the moderator.
Some of the district councilors in attendance complained that the arrangements for the meeting were rather restrictive.
For starters, all attendees were asked to take prearranged cars to the venue, and were told not to wear helmets or distribute flyers.
Nearly 40 police officers and security guards were deployed in and around the compound.
After a draw, only 38 of the attending councilors – including five from the pan-democratic camp – were allowed to speak with a time limit of three minutes each.
Sha Tin district councilor Ting Tsz-yuen from the pro-democracy group Community Alliance said that the unrest would not have lasted long if Lam had withdrawn the extradition bill immediately after about a million people took to the streets to protest against it on June 9.
Ting also took the chief executive to task for the broken relationships in many families as a result of their different views regarding the extradition bill saga.
Sunny Chiu Chu-pong, another pan-dem district councilor from Sha Tin, said he was disappointed when Lam stressed that Hong Kong still enjoys a high level of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle. He said Lam sounded like a recorder in her response.
Pro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, who is also a Kowloon City district councilor, said many of her colleagues in the university where she works have suggested that the government enact a law banning protesters from wearing masks that hide their faces, although her colleagues held different political views.
This shows that many citizens want the rule of law to prevail, added Leung, who is vice chair of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong.
Lam did not respond to each of the suggestions made by the councilors, but she acknowledged that the government had failed to proactively address livelihood issues.
It was not intentional on the part of the government, she stressed, but was due to various factors, including the allocation of resources that needed to be considered.
Lam promised that the government will continue to hold dialogues with the people before her term ends in 2022.
She said she wanted to listen to more views directly from the public, which would guide her in formulating her policies.
That is the new governance style of her administration, she said.
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