HK’s Lam to meet citizens to defuse protest crisis
Hong Kong, Sep. 17 (IANS): Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday announced that she would meet 100-200 citizens next week in a bid to reconnect with the public and find a way to defuse the ongoing political crisis.
Speaking before Tuesday’s weekly Executive Council meeting, she said: “This is an open dialogue platform which we would invite people from all walks of life to, to express their views to us.
“This is because of our conviction that communication is far better than confrontation.
“The problems go well beyond the bill, so it is important for the government to listen and engage the community to have a better understanding of those problems.”
Lam had first offered to create a public platform for discussion last month, the South China Morning Post reported.
It was also among four actions she pledged to take on September 4 when she confirmed the withdrawal of the extradition bill, the draft legislation which sparked the political unrest.
Lam said she understood anger stemmed from “housing, land shortage, lack of diversity and inclusiveness in our economy”, adding that the face-to-face exchanges were not a one-off but would run over the long term.
There will be three types of dialogue under the approach outlined by the government.
The first one, which launches next week, is open for all to sign up to. For each session, 100 to 200 people who registered in advance will be chosen, by lot, to attend.
Lam said the second format would be more representative, with citizens chosen randomly for an invite.
The third takes the form of in-depth focus groups, each attended by about 20 members of the public, Lam said, adding all meetings would adhere to principles of openness and transparency with the agendas made public.
Anti-government anger triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent back to mainland China, has fuelled 15 straight weekends of protests in Hong Kong.