The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, has warned that violent protests across Hong Kong are pushing Hong Kong down a deep abyss where the city will be “smashed to pieces”.
Speaking before a meeting of the Executive Council, which ended its summer break two weeks early due to the political chaos here, Lam said the SAR had entered an extremely “dangerous situation” over the past week.
She said many protesters had violently attacked judicial organisations in the name of justice, adding that assaulting police and their offices was unacceptable as the city's 30,000-strong force is responsible for upholding the rule of law.
She said Hong Kong had already been badly torn apart and the city will need a very long time to recover.
Appearing to fight back her tears, she urged Hong Kong people to calm down and ask themselves whether they wanted to push Hong Kong down a "deep abyss" where the city will be “smashed to pieces”.
When asked whether the police had abused their power and used excessive violence against protesters on Sunday - by, for example, firing pepper balls at demonstrators at close range at Tai Koo MTR station and firing tear gas into Kwai Fong station - Lam defended the use of such tactics.
“The police have had a very difficult time in the last two months to enforce the law and to ensure law and order in Hong Kong. As everyone will observe, they are under extremely difficult circumstances. Police operations could not be determined by someone like myself who’s outside the police, especially when policemen have to make on-the-spot judgement of what will be in the best interest and safety of people around during that particular situation. The police have their code of practice to follow. The police have very rigid and stringent guidelines in the use of appropriate force,” she said.
Lam said the priority for Hong Kong right now is to fight against violence, and resume law and order in the territory. Once that has been achieved, she said sincere dialogue and the rebuilding of harmony in society can begin.
“The Chief Executive’s responsibility is to ensure that Hong Kong remains a safe and orderly and law-abiding city. That is my utmost responsibility,” she added.
When asked if she’s still capable of leading Hong Kong and whether she has the autonomy to withdraw the now-suspended extradition bill - as demanded by protesters over the past two months - Lam simply said she still had the trust of Beijing.
“The Central Government is still confident that I myself as the government of the HKSAR, together with the police force, that we are still capable of resolving this crisis. The second point I want to make is, in response to the various demands that we have heard, we have considered all factors and came up with a response that we had rehearsed time and again over the last two months,” she said.
Lam also once again brushed aside calls to set up an independent commission of inquiry into the extradition bill saga, saying the current mechanism involving the Independent Police Complaints Council is good enough to handle the matter.