Lam invites prominent figures to discuss dialogue platform

August 22, 2019 12:57
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said talks with non-violent protesters would provide “a way out” for Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has sent out invitations to prominent figures from different sectors to discuss how to establish a platform for dialogue with the community.

A government source said among those invited were former chief secretary and financial secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, who is a standing committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body; former Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing and former transport and housing secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung.

Also invited were Education University of Hong Kong president Professor Stephen Cheung Yan-leung; Hong Kong Baptist University president Professor Roland Chin Tai-hong; Cardinal John Tong Ho (a representative is expected to attend the meeting); Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiology expert at the University of Hong Kong; Hong Kong Council of Social Service chief executive Chua Hoi-wai; and May Chan Suk-mei, special advisor to the Hong Kong Commercial Radio chairman.

According to the government source, about 20 people have been invited to the meeting scheduled for Saturday morning at the Government House, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

There will be only one item on the agenda, which is how to build a platform for a dialogue among various sectors of society. 

Lam said on Tuesday that she saw Sunday's generally peaceful demonstration as “the beginning of society returning to peace and staying away from violence” and that talks with non-violent protesters would provide “a way out” for Hong Kong.

As such, she said, her administration “will immediately start the work to establish a platform for dialogue”, which “will be based on a mutual understanding and respect and find a way out” of the current political crisis.

But Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) which plans to stage another massive demonstration at the end of the month, told media on Tuesday he is afraid that the platform for dialogue may be a trap for the protest movement and end up being just a government public relations show.

Tang said he would be happy to host such a dialogue, provided that both sides are frank and honest, RTHK reported.

The government source said although pan-democrats have made clear that they have no intention of taking part in the dialogue, the government will do its best to invite parties from various sectors to participate.

However, if clashes between police and protesters erupt again over the coming weekend, efforts to establish the platform for dialogue could be affected, the source said.

Political scientist Ma Ngok, an associate professor at the Department of Government and Public Administration of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, suspects the dialogue would not get very far just by looking at the list of invitees, most of whom he said are leaders of senior age from the establishment camp.

Ma said the protesters' demands are very clear, but the government continues to be non-responsive. As such, people will think that the government, in proposing the platform, is simply stalling.

Meanwhile, former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, who reportedly has not invited to the meeting, wrote a newspaper article and uploaded a video on Wednesday to express his views about the current political crisis.

Tsang said Hong Kong is now very ill, and only truth will allow the city to start anew. He called for forgiveness and reconciliation, and asked people to love one another.

In an article posted on her official blog, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah suggested “the use of an innovative and diversified dispute resolution technique to handle the existing conflicts in Hong Kong”.

She said people must “respect the rights of others” while “enjoying the rights and freedoms that one is entitled to”.

“Consensus should be built through dialogues, not violence. We can then surpass this difficult time and restore peace and order in Hong Kong and move forward,” Cheng said.

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