A group of pro-democracy district councillors have criticised Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s effort to meet them at government headquarters as being a “political show.”
Lam and several Hong Kong officials invited local representatives to a two-hour, closed-door discussion about the recent anti-government protests. The meeting on Wednesday night was boycotted by most of the city’s larger pro-democracy parties. Only around 100 district councillors out of 458 attended – fewer than ten were in the pro-democracy camp.
At the meeting, 38 district councillors were chosen to speak via a lucky draw, with each of them able to speak for three minutes. The meeting did not allow for any recordings to be made, but two pro-democracy district councillors tried to publish Facebook live streams, before staff intervened.
Sha Tin District Councillor Lai Tsz-yan was among a group of five pro-democracy councillors who attended in protest.
“It was just an occasion for top officials and the pro-establishment camp to talk to each other,” he said, calling the event a “political show.”
He said the government was not sincere in giving each district councillor three minutes to speak. The government only spoke for around five minutes during the meeting, he said, instead of responding to councillors one by one.
Sunny Chiu, another pro-democracy Sha Tin district councillor who attended, said he told Lam that the government was too late officially withdrawing the extradition bill, which has sparked months of protest. He said it should have been fully withdrawn in June, after more than a million people peacefully marched: “If the bill was withdrawn at that time, other demands would not have arisen,” he said. He added that the government must respond to the remaining four demands.
Protests, now into their third month, have escalated into greater calls for democracy, and have evolved into demonstrations against alleged police brutality and Chinese interference.
At the meeting, Lam thanked district councillors and said she hoped the recent civil unrest would stop and social order could be rebuilt.
Following the event, some pro-Beijing district councillors said the meeting was a success.
Terry Yip, a Tuen Mun district councillor of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the meeting was rational and calm because most democrats boycotted it.
Yip was not picked to speak, but said after the meeting: “It was very orderly, [councillors] had three minutes… it was a success.”
Bill Tang, an Islands District representative for the Federation of Trade Unions, said councillors with different opinions were able to speak at the meeting.
He said he hoped the government will expand its dialogue platform to other sectors, so officials could face the public more.
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