Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the government will try hard to ensure a peaceful District Council election on November 24. Her comments came as local media reported that the election may be cancelled because of ongoing protests.

Speaking before her weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said that some pro-establishment politicians have faced threats to their safety, including harassment on the street and having their offices vandalised. Lawmakers and district councillors from the Federation of Trade Unions and the New People’s Party have reported having their offices damaged.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo:

“It is natural for the pro-establishment camp to worry that the election will not be fair,” Lam said. “But that does not mean that we will not hold the election because of these concerns. We are trying hard to ensure it happens.”

The city’s leader urged for calm during the election, saying: “We hope that all those concerned, including candidates, can work together to create a peaceful and quiet environment for the election.”

Mass protests in Hong Kong have entered their 19th week over calls for democratic freedom and accountability for the police’s handling of the crisis. Lam has responded to one of the protesters’ demands by agreeing to withdraw a proposed extradition agreement with China, though she has yet to respond to the other four demands.

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Lam will announce her third policy address at the Legislative Council on Wednesday. She said she will try her best to get to the legislature to make her speech, despite potential disruptions.

“I hope the rain will disappear and blue skies will appear again soon,” she said.

Asked if the government plans to appoint “special constables” from other disciplinary forces to increase the manpower of the police, Lam said it would only consider doing so if there was a strong reason to do it. She added that it was a very difficult decision to use the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO) to enact a controversial anti-mask law.

“I believe that increasing manpower is not a strong enough reason to [use the ERO],” she said.

‘Police state’

US Senator for Missouri Josh Hawley said on Monday that Hong Kong was becoming a “police state.” His comments were made during a two-day visit to the city.

Josh Hawley
Josh Hawley. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Lam rejected his comments on Tuesday, saying that she hoped US politicians visiting Hong Kong would gain an objective and comprehensive view of its political situation.

“But unfortunately the feedback that I have got is, most of them, several of them coming here—they have very pre-conceived views about Hong Kong situation,” she said. “And that’s why, for this particular senator to describe Hong Kong as becoming a police state—it’s totally irresponsible and unfounded.”

Lam cancelled a meeting on Saturday with US Senator for Texas Ted Cruz, who briefly visited the city. Cruz said he had refused to have a closed-door, off-the-record meeting with the leader, but the government claimed he had agreed to the conditions prior to his visit.

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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.