Hong Kong’s leader Leung Chun-ying said on Saturday that he welcomed young people with different political views and backgrounds to visit him for “late-night chats.”

“If any of you are interested, we can find some time – you can take a taxi to the Government House – let’s sit down and have a chat,” the chief executive said. He added that he accepts different opinions as long as they are expressed through legal means.

government house
Hong Kong Government House. Photo: Wikicommons.

Leung made the remarks at the Youth Summit on Saturday, organised by the Home Affairs Bureau and the Commission on Youth to “provide a platform for young people to exchange views” with government officials.

Tear gas protest

A student criticised the government for suppressing the voices of young people, such as firing tear gas at unarmed protesters during 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.

“[The government] is suppressing young people – not caring for, or supporting them. For example, during the Umbrella Revolution, unarmed youths were met with tear gas. Finally, I can’t hold this in – I’m really sorry – fuck your mother,” he said. Some audience members cheered. The student was then escorted out of the venue.

“The so-called suppression happens very rarely. We shouldn’t make sweeping statements like this,” Leung replied. “The police force demonstrated a high level of self-restraint at the time.”

An audience member shouted at Leung: “Aren’t you embarrassed to say this?”

Another student asked why Leung’s Facebook account is not open for public comment. The chief executive responded that he has no problem with online comments as long as opinions and criticism are reasonable.

cy leung
CY Leung at the 2016 Youth Summit. Photo: Gov HK.

He said that some of his social media posts had received hundreds to thousands “angry” reactions, but he did not consider them to have any value. Leung added that a democratic society is about two-way communication.

See also: Cheap housing is possible if gov’t can develop country parks, Chief Exec. CY Leung suggests

Leung also said at the event that he is interested in developing parts of country parks to provide affordable housing. He urged young people to take an active role in planning Hong Kong’s future.

Leung and his wife Tong Ching-yee attended an open day event at the Government House briefly on Sunday. Several activists who had with them banners and yellow umbrellas – a symbol of the 2014 Occupy protests – were refused entry.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.