Former transport and housing secretary, Anthony Cheung, warned on Monday that things might deteriorate further and the government needs to respond in a way that exceeds the public's expectation if it is to end the current political impasse.
Cheung urged the administration to swallow its pride and set up an independent inquiry, not just into the policing of recent demonstrations, but also into social conditions more broadly.
“Here in Hong Kong we have this very serious incident, involving rather serious confrontation between the protesters and the police on several occasions,” he said.
“So, if we follow the tradition of Hong Kong, whenever there’s any major incident, it is possible for the government to set up – under the law – an independent commission of inquiry, usually presided by a judge or a retired judge, to look into the facts, to explore why that incident or accident happened, so that we all have a proper collective understanding of the issue, and suitable recommendations can then be made,” he said.
He added that although an inquiry would be a judicial process, it would not be mandated to determine any guilt, and since people would be testifying as witnesses, the inquiry would be very useful to understand the complexity of the unrest.
Cheung declined to speculate on why Chief Executive Carrie Lam has not already set up an inquiry, but he expressed concern that the situation could deteriorate further.
“It is important that the general public – I’m not referring to those more extremist views within the community – but the general public has to be persuaded that the government has listened. Because the general public has spoken, therefore the government has to show that the government has listened, and some action will then follow,” he said.