Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday publicly apologised for introducing the extradition bill, which she said was “very unlikely” to pass, BBC reported. Lam’s apology comes after millions of Hong Kong residents took to the streets in mass protests against the extradition bill that could allow people to be sent to China for trials.
“I personally have to shoulder much of the responsibility,” Lam said. “This has led to controversies, disputes and anxieties in society. For this I offer my most sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong.”
Protestors have been calling for Lam’s resignation and for the bill to be withdrawn completely. Lam said that the bill would not be revived until the concerns were addressed.
“I will not proceed again with this legislative exercise if these fears and anxieties could not be adequately addressed,” AFP quoted her as saying. “If the bill... [does] not make the legislative council by July next year, it will expire... and the government will accept that reality.”
Lam, however, has refused to step down, saying that she had important work to complete in the next three years before the end of her current five-year term of office. “After this incident, I think work in the next three years will be very difficult, but myself and my team will work harder to rebuild public confidence,” Reuters quoted Lam as saying.
Following days of violent protests against the bill since June 12, Lam announced on Saturday that the bill would be indefinitely delayed. She had said that Lam said that the city’s legislature would stop all work on the bill and that further steps would be decided after consultations with several parties.
However, protests have continued till Monday. Critics fear that the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation [Amendment] Bill, 2019, that had been proposed by the Government of Hong Kong, would cause the city to open itself to the Chinese law and that people from Hong Kong may become subject to a different legal system.
Protest organisers and opposition Democrats remained unconvinced even after her apology, saying that she was still unaware of people’s demands. “Carrie Lam is continuing to lie,” Jimmy Sham, convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, told Reuters. “We hope the people of Hong Kong can unite with us to keep working hard to withdraw the evil law.”
“When one million people marched at least we got a suspension, when two million people marched all we got is a sorry,” The Wall Street Journal quoted pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, who was released from prison on Monday, as saying. “How many people does she want to drive to the streets?”