Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said it is “quite remarkable,” by world standards, that there have been no major fatalities in Hong Kong after three months of protest.

Over the weekend, footage emerged showing a volunteer from the Protect Our Kids Campaign protest group allegedly being beaten by police officers in a back alley.

At Monday’s press briefing, Acting Senior Superintendent (Operations) Vasco Williams of New Territories North Region denied any instance of police misconduct. He said a widely-circulated video was not clear, and officers could have been kicking a yellow object, person, a bag or a vest.

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Asked about the comments by Williams, Lam said ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday that the police force were under extreme pressure during the ongoing demonstrations.

She said she supported the force but would not condone irregularities or wrong practices. She added that, as the chief executive, it would be difficult to offer her opinion on individual video footage: “There has been, so far, always different versions to the same incident,” she said. She urged the affected individuals to come forward to file complaints.

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Lam said there were no major fatalities in Hong Kong after three months of protests: “By world standard[s] – I have been meeting overseas dignitaries and officials – it’s quite remarkable,” she said.

Asked if the police would lose restraint over time, Lam said: “I can’t tell you, because it’s really on the ground. It is not for me, sort of quite far away from the commander, to be able to judge – let alone to tell them what to do. We have to trust the force and the commanders in dealing with such different situations.”

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

Hong Kong has seen more than 100 days of demonstration and unrest triggered by the soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to mainland China. Large-scale peaceful protests have morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment and alleged police brutality.

Lawmaker Junius Ho has urged the government to enact an emergency law, whilst his pro-Beijing camp colleague Ann Chiang has called for anti-mask legislation.

Asked about their suggestions, Lam said the government has to analyse whether such laws can be used to effectively handle the current protests: “Until now, we have not used the special laws you mentioned to do this aspect of work.”

‘Consensus during dialogue not possible’

Lam said more than 20,000 residents have signed up for her first two-hour public dialogue at Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Thursday, and 150 will be selected to participate via a lucky draw.

She said the dialogue would be a success if participants communicate in a candid and frank manner during the session.

Queen Elizabeth Stadium
Queen Elizabeth Stadium. Photo: LSCD.

“It would not be possible for a consensus to be reached after all these tensions in society that we have seen. So, to me, this is one step forward – it would be a long journey to achieve reconciliation in society, let alone to return to the more normal Hong Kong that we are more familiar with,” she said.

Asked if the dialogue’s security arrangement was too tight by banning protest paraphernalia, Lam said she hoped the dialogue could be carried out peacefully, where participants can express their anger verbally.

She said the government was also considering conducting an online dialogue.

Rallies and National Day march

More protests have been planned throughout the week, including a rally at 8pm on Friday at Chater Garden in Central against alleged police brutality at the San Uk Ling Holding Centre.

【 9.28 + 10.1 】連發宣傳五年前的9月28日,催淚彈劃破夏愨道的半空,開展一場劍指真普選的佔領運動。五年過去,真普選雖仍遙遙無期,而警察比以前更黑、更暴力、更不受監管。但是,香港人履行了在當日佔領結束時許下的承諾…

Posted by 民間人權陣線 Civil Human Rights Front on Monday, 23 September 2019

An “anti-Chinazi” march will be held on Sunday at 2:30pm – protesters plan to march from Sogo department store in Causeway Bay to government headquarters in Admiralty. The organisers have said they will not seek police approval.

The Civil Human Rights Front, a leading protest organiser in Hong Kong, is planning a rally at 7pm on Saturday at Tamar Park to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement.

The Front also said it will organise a major protest next Tuesday at 2pm. It will begin in Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park and end at Chater Road, Central. Both Front events have yet to receive police approval.

There will also be several human chain events and class boycott rallies across the city.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.