Falling turnouts at recent demonstrations are a sign that Hong Kong society has become calmer, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said.

Speaking to RTHK this week, the city’s leader added that she wanted to connect with young people – but this did not mean that she would make all decisions in accordance with the wishes of the youth.

Carrie Lam. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“Since our entire cabinet took office – it’s been almost half a year – many people feel that [society] has become more stable, the sound of disputes have decreased,” she told the broadcaster.

“Even rallies and protests, in which a lot of people took part in the past – there’s been some these couple of months, but the turnout has decreased a bit as well. All these signs give us the feeling that Hong Kong society has become calmer.”

Lam said she was not sure whether this is an achievement by her administration, or whether Hongkongers have simply become tired, preferring to “stay calm and be happy.”

“But overall, we feel encouraged,” she added.

Protesting against the Legislative Council’s change of its Rules of Procedure in December. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

High-profile recent protests at the Legislative Council against the pro-Beijing camp’s change of its Rules of Procedure drew only several hundred participants each evening, although tens of thousands of Hongkongers turned out to a march in August after Umbrella Movement figures Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were jailed for months. Organisers said it was the largest demonstration since the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.

‘Walking alongside’ the youth

The chief executive also renewed her campaign promise to “walk alongside” Hong Kong’s young people, but said that this did not mean that all issues would be decided according to their wishes.

“I’m also the mother of two sons. When I say I love and care about them, it doesn’t mean I spoil them, it doesn’t mean I give them everything they want,” she said. “As adults, we have the responsibility to tell them what is right and what is wrong.”

Photo: CarrieLam2017, via Facebook.

“I hope [young people] become a generation that has a sense of our country, a global vision, a passion for Hong Kong, as well as social responsibility.”

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.