A pro-Beijing lawmaker has said that he did not support the now-withdrawn extradition bill, and the Hong Kong government should respond to protesters’ demands to form an independent commission of inquiry into the alleged use of police brutality.

Abraham Shek, who represents top land developers in the legislature, said in an interview with the Economic Digest on Wednesday that the government cannot resolve the current crisis by just handling the housing issue for young people. A key focus of the 2019 policy address by Chief Executive Carrie Lam was housing.

“You cannot buy dignity,” he said. “Their five demands did not mention that they want a house. The five demands of young people are that they want justice, fairness and transparency.”

Abraham Shek. File Photo: LegCo.

Mass protests – initially against the now withdrawn extradition bill – have entered their 21st week and have evolved into a wider movement calling for democracy, with sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment and alleged police brutality.

In June, two massive marches were against the bill, organised by the Civil Human Rights Front NGO alliance. According to the Front, up to one million people marched on June 9 and two million people joined on June 16.

Shek said the Hong Kong government did not show capability in employing the right people and listening to the public.

“[Some said] it was not one million people and only 200,000 people. But 200,000 people are a lot. [Some said] it was not two million people and only 250,000. But the government should listen to them,” he said.

Carrie Lam. Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

Speaking about his personal opposition to the bill, Shek rejected Lam’s claim that the bill was to plug a loophole in the existing law, and would allow Hong Kong to handle extradition requests from jurisdictions where there are no pre-existing agreements.

“The rule of law of Hong Kong and the mainland are different. By suddenly plugging this hole – combining common law, Hong Kong law, and the country’s law – then we will lose [the difference],” he said.

“The three million people [who marched] were not against her. They wanted to protect our existing system.”

Photo: Studio Incendo.

Shek added that Hong Kong officials did not do their job in resolving social confrontations over the past few years, and the education system should not be made a scapegoat.

“Our education system was not problematic. We taught many young people to be responsible. They go to [protests], regardless if they are yellow or blue, black or white, because they have ideals,” he said. “Regardless if they are wrong or not, we have to listen to them. How do we listen? By starting an independent investigation.”

“Why do [young people protest]? They may go to jail for ten years. We have to understand them. Is the education, their families, or the police the problem?” added Shek.

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Kris Cheng

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.