The “destructive” acts of radical protesters are pushing Hong Kong to the point of no return, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Monday, while reiterating that the government will not yield to pressure tactics brought on through escalating street violence.
Speaking at a press conference in the evening following the citywide mayhem that began early in the day, Lam said bluntly that demonstrators will never succeed in getting their political demands met by stepping up the violence.
“If there’s still any wishful thinking that by escalating violence the Hong Kong SAR government will yield to pressure to satisfy the so-called political demands, I am making this statement clear and loud here: that will not happen,” Lam said.
Following a turbulent Sunday, anti-government protesters continued to block roads and conduct acts of vandalism on Monday, leading to chaos on the streets and serious transport disruptions.
Lam told media that everyone in Hong Kong should condemn the demonstrators for the violence on Monday, which included setting a person on fire.
The movement has gone far beyond the fight for demands related to democracy, she said, adding that the protesters can now be deemed as “enemy of the people”.
“Violence is not going to give us any solution to the problems that Hong Kong is facing. Our joint priority now as a city is to end the violence and to return Hong Kong to normal as soon as possible,” the chief executive said.
According to Lam, the violent activities and disturbances brought on by calls for a citywide strike on Monday had affected almost everyone in Hong Kong.
The social disturbances resulted in a large number of casualties, including two serious cases — one in which a protester was shot by a traffic police officer in Sai Wan Ho, and the other which saw a middle-aged man splashed with an inflammable liquid and set on fire in Ma On Shan.
Lam said the fire incident, which followed a dispute between the victim and a group of young people, was “a totally inhumane act that nobody should condone.”
Questioned about police excesses such as the shooting incident in Sai Wan Ho and a traffic officer driving a motorcycle into a crowd of protesters in Kwai Fong, Lam said she does not agree with the view that police have become out of control.
It is “unacceptable” that anyone should come to such conclusion, she said, adding that cases highlighted in the media were just isolated incidents.
The 30,000-member police force is an important pillar for maintaining law and order, the chief executive said, asking the public to consider what Hong Kong will be like if the force were to be disbanded.
Lam called on people not to believe the “many rumors” being spread online, as a lot of them are “malicious”.
In response to Lam’s remarks, pan-democrat lawmakers said in a statement that the chief executive should not pass the buck to the protesters, as the violence actually originated from the police and the government.
As Lam has been covering up police violence and turning a blind eye to it, she is no longer trustworthy in the eyes of the public and therefore she must step down, the opposition lawmakers said.
In other news, the Hong Kong Journalists Association urged Lam to instruct the police to stop targeting journalists who are covering the protests.
Steps should be taken to ensure the safety of media personnel so that they can perform their duties and report the truth to the public, the association said.
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