Hong Kong Leader Dismisses Protesters’ Demands, Insists Government Maintains Control

By Jeremy Sandberg

HONG KONG—Chief Executive Carrie Lam dismissed protesters’ five demands on Aug. 27 and said the government has the situation under control. This comes after escalating violence over the weekend during a tense situation between the government and its citizens.

Police fired water cannons for the first time against protesters on Aug. 26. An officer also fired a warning shot from a gun with real bullets that night.

Lam spoke with the press and for the first time said the government does not accept the protesters’ demands.

“It is not a question of not responding,” said Lam. “It is a question of not accepting those demands.”

The protesters are asking that a controversial extradition bill be removed, for authorities to stop labeling protesters as “rioters,” an investigation into police brutality, for those arrested during the protest to be exonerated and released, and greater democratic freedoms.

Lam said the Hong Kong government has not lost control and that she will not step down.

“I think a responsible chief executive at this point in time should continue to hold the fort and do her utmost to restore law and order in Hong Kong.”

Public Response

Citizens of Hong Kong have become restless with the current situation and the level of police violence used to dispel protests. Protesters and citizens are wary of giving their full name.

Ethan, a Hong Kong Resident, told NTD Television it’s becoming a war.

“We need to fight with the Hong Kong citizen because they don’t care about opinions,” said Ethan. “So she said they need to take down all the protesters. So it’s basically a war between the government and the citizen.”

“It doesn’t meet the requirement of those youngsters, she has to be frankly and sincerely talk,” said Stephen, another Hong Kong Resident.

Derek Chan, a Hong Kong Resident and lawyer, said it has been chaotic and government officials should do more.

“I think the government should do more to resolve this matter,” said Chan. “But just blaming the protesters.”

‘Platform for Dialogue’

The Beijing-backed leader said Hong Kong’s government could handle the unrest by itself and she will not give up on forming a platform for dialogue with protesters.

Kelly Wong, a protester said in a press conference that many protesters have been injured, not in the protests, but once in police custody away from the eyes of reporters and cameras.

“From those I have personally had contact with, I know of at least ten victims of police violence after arrest,” said Wong. “Six suicide victims and three ruptured eyeballs later, all we have won are Carrie Lam’s offers to participate in an insincere platform for dialogue.”

The statements from Lam come when protesters are growing more agitated over the lack of government response after nearly three months of protests.

“I don’t feel surprised because she has made similar comments in the past, and she appears quite robust and persistent on her stance so it doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Chan.

While this is the first time that Lam has said the government will not accept the five demands, it likely does not come as a surprise to most, as there has been little to no response until now.

Protesters are determined to continue their demonstrations, with two rallies planned on August 28 and a large protest planned for August 31.

Reuters contributed to this report.