Hong Kong’s pro-government camp has scrambled to try to save the image of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor after the general public, rising up in Sunday’s mammoth protest demonstration, criticized her for arrogance and poor governance.
On Monday, the Executive Council convenor Bernard Chan asked Hong Kong people to give Lam “a second chance.”
Speaking on a Radio Television Hong Kong’s program, Chan said he believed that Lam had learned a lesson after her lack of communication and her leadership failure in the extradition bill amendment attempt prompted discontent among a lot of Hong Kong people.
Chan said he believed Lam is very sorry and very regretful and will continue to make apologies to Hong Kong people in the future, adding that the chief executive should understand that repeating the apology is the way to get the general public to believe in her sincerity.
Hong Kong people on Sunday night seemed not to accept Lam’s written apology, issued through a government statement after as many as two million people had taken to the streets to demand retraction of the bill and her resignation.
Chan said he understood the anger among the public, but he hoped the public would think back on the “relatively calm” society of the past two years and the efforts Lam and her administration had made for Hong Kong.
Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, former secretary for transport and housing, said he believed the Lam’s governance in the future could be difficult but he did not think that changing to another chief executive could solve the problem at once.
Cheung said if Lam could openly express her views, it would help lessen tension among the protesters. He added that it is the responsibility of the Hong Kong government to protect the city’s core values in a humble way.
Even as Hong Kong citizens were in the streets Sunday holding another enormous street rally, demanding Lam’s resignation, Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong was reiterating its support for Lam.
Two hundred Hong Kong delegates of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political advisory body, and local deputies of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s legislature, received a notice on Saturday evening. In response to the notice, on Sunday morning they went to the Beijing liaison office in Sai Wan on Hong Kong Island to meet with the office’s director, Wang Zhimin.
Assembled loyalists were told that the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR supported, understood and respected Lam’s decision to shelve the controversial extradition bill amendment.
Attendants included NPC Standing Committee member Tam Yiu-chung, Maria Tam Wai-chu, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai , former World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun.
During the closed-door meeting that Wang and seven deputy directors attended, Wang said the liaison office opposed any foreign forces meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.
Local media including pro-establishment Sing Tao Daily quoted sources as saying that, at the one-hour meeting, Wang and the deputy directors stood up twice and bowed to the loyalists, thanking them for their support for the bill amendment proposal and urging their continuous support for Lam.
Beijing’s Liaison Office had originally sought loyalists support for the bill amendment, in a May meeting. After that meeting, even members of the pro-Beijing camp who had previously shown their reservations over the amendment, turned their stance to support it.
In response to the Hong Kong government’s decision to suspend the extradition amendment bill, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on his Twitter feed: “Well done HK Government for heeding concerns of the brave citizens who have stood up for their human rights.”
Hunt said safeguarding the rights and freedoms set out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration is the best future for Hong Kong, adding that Britain stands behind the legally binding agreement.
The US Consulate General also said it welcomed the decision the chief executive made to suspend the extradition amendment bill, news website HK01.com reported.