Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she had sacrificed a lot for Hong Kong in a tearful televised interview. Her comments come as an occupation of the city’s legislature over a controversial extradition bill ended in violence with several protesters sustaining injuries.
RTHK reported that at least 22 protesters sustained injuries after police pushed the crowd back on Wednesday using rubber bullets and tear gas.
Those injured reportedly include an outsourced RTHK driver who was unconscious for several minutes after being hit with a round of tear gas, during which he spasmed and his heart stopped beating for some time. As of Thursday morning, his condition was reportedly stable and he was conscious. A police officer was also treated at the scene.
In an interview with local broadcaster TVB televised on Wednesday, Lam became emotional when responding to a question about whether she had betrayed Hong Kong by pushing through the extradition bill.
“I grew up here together with all the Hongkongers. My love for this place… has led me to make a fair amount of personal sacrifices,” she said.
Lam added that her husband told her she could not have “sold Hong Kong out” – a common phrase on protest signs – because she has sacrificed herself for the good of the city.
As of 8:30pm, police were facing protesters at Queensway and near Central on Harcourt Road.
Protesters wearing all-black with hard hats and goggles have built barricades in front of police lines using metal barriers bound together using plastic cable ties.
An organised ‘riot’
Lam described the protest as an organised “riot” in a televised address later on Wednesday evening.
“This is not an act out of love of Hong Kong,” the city’s leader said. She added that the occupation of roads had severely affected the city and said protesters used lethal methods to attack police by setting fires, using metal bars, throwing bricks and damaging public facilities.
“We must strongly condemn this,” she added.
Lam stood by the controversial extradition bill despite the unrest that followed a march on Sunday that organisers said was attended by 1.03 million people.
“Since the Handover, some people will use matters involving the central and Hong Kong governments, mainland and Hong Kong to incite confrontation… radical confrontation is not the solution,” she said. “I hope society returns to order soon, and I hope no more people will be injured.”
Admiralty MTR station has been closed at the request of the police.
Hong Kong’s government proposed legal amendments in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements – most notably China and Taiwan. The plan would enable the chief executive and local courts to handle extradition requests without legislative oversight, though lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland.
A scheduled Legislative Council debate of the bill was postponed due to the protests on Wednesday.