Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday promised to set up a platform for dialogue to “find a way out” for Hong Kong, adding that the existing study under the police complaints watchdog will expand its scope.

But Lam offered no concessions to the five demands of pro-democracy protesters despite 1.7 million of them taking to the streets on Sunday, according to organiser estimates. She also once again refused to withdraw the now-suspended extradition bill.

Carrie Lam August 20

“We hope the dialogue platform will be open, direct, and reach out to people from different classes, political opinions and backgrounds,” Lam told reporters. “I and my principal officers are willing to go to the communities and engage in dialogue directly.”

She said her administration will first reach out to individuals who had previously proposed meetings. She did not name anyone when asked, only saying that those people can be identified in past media reports.

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As for the Sunday march, Lam said it was “generally peaceful” and that she hoped it was a start for society to return to calm and non-violence.

In early July, Lam made a similar proposal to meet behind closed doors with Hong Kong’s student leaders and exchanging views “with no prerequisites,” but her offer was rejected by groups, urging her to respond to protesters’ core demands first.

IPCC study expanded

Lam also said on Tuesday that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will seek help from overseas experts, and to look into more events that have taken place since July.

august 18 CHRF china extradition
Photo: May James/HKFP.

The IPCC first announced on July 4 that it would conduct a fact-finding study into the public protests between June 9 and July 2.

Lam said that the study will now cover events that occurred after July 2 as well, including the attack in Yuen Long on July 21. The IPCC will provide “fact-finding, assessment, and recommendations” once it concludes its six-month study, she added.

IPCC chairman Anthony Neoh told Lam that the watchdog may consider hiring British experts who looked into the 2011 London riots, the chief executive said.

Anthony Neoh
Anthony Neoh. Photo:

The IPCC is also considering hiring more members to deal with the workload. The police have received 174 complaints which needed to be referred to the IPCC, Lam said, and the watchdog has received around 1,200 information submissions from the public.

Rule of law

Asked about the attack in Tseung Kwan O on Monday night, where a knife-wielding man assaulted people at the neighbourhood Lennon Wall, Lam said that the incident will be taken seriously and investigated by police.

HKFP asked Lam whether Hong Kong was still a suitable place for international businesses after two top officers resigned from the city’s flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, amid pressure from Beijing.

Cathay Pacific.
Cathay Pacific. File photo: Max Pixel.

“I cannot comment, as the chief executive, on the commercial decisions of individual companies,” she said.

“But I remain convinced that Hong Kong has her unique advantages in attracting overseas companies to come to Hong Kong, one of the most important strengths is the rule of law.”

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.