Hong Kong protests: Chief Executive Carrie Lam vows to rebuild city and bear responsibilities in new year address

Kimmy Chung

Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said she hopes to rebuild the city and will not shy from her responsibilities as she shared her resolutions on New Year’s Eve.

The government released a three-minute video featuring Lam, alongside three other ministers on the last day of a turbulent 2019, which ended with the chief executive wishing to restore order and harmony in the new year.

“In 2019, we experienced challenges not seen before. The unrest triggered by the introduction of the extradition bill has lasted more than six months,” Lam said.

“We all want to see an end to this predicament. This situation has caused sadness, anxiety, disappointment and even rage.

“As the chief executive, I will not shy away from my responsibilities. I will listen humbly to find a way out,” she said, adding the government had to handle the problems at hand and acknowledge shortcomings in the system as well as the deep-rooted conflicts in society.

The video used footage of a massive protest march and featured shots of damaged street facilities, without any scenes of violent confrontation between protesters and police.

The ongoing unrest was sparked in June by the now-withdrawn extradition bill that could have resulted in fugitives being sent to jurisdictions including mainland China to face trial. It morphed into a wider campaign for greater democracy and an independent inquiry into police’s handling of protests.

“I believe we can once again overcome our current challenges and rebuild Hong Kong. Let’s start 2020 with a new resolution to restore order and harmony in society,” Lam said.

“So we can begin again, together.”

The video featured no scenes of violent clashes between police and protesters. Photo: May Tse

Law Chi-kwong, the secretary for labour and welfare, also appeared in the video and said the government would “substantially improve the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance and Working Family Allowance schemes”.

Frank Chan Fan, secretary for transport and housing, said his bureau had been working hard to find land to boost the housing supply and reduce the time it takes to build homes.

Reviewing several rounds of relief measures launched for the business sector and the public, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the city would overcome the current hardships and scale new heights as long as social order was restored.

The video was uploaded as protesters prepared for another mass rally to be held on New Year’s Day.

Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, convenor of Civil Human Rights Front, organiser of the march, said there was no way Lam’s video would gain sympathy from the public or help to ease anger.

“Hong Kong people have learned in the past half-year not to listen to what politicians say, but watch what they do,” Sham said. “The government basically did nothing to react to the public’s demands.”

He believed a huge crowd would join the rally and demand the government respond directly to the people, who want an independent probe.

Chinese University political scientist Ma Ngok said the video was useless, and that “no one would love to hear the chief executive’s empty words and promises”.

Worse still, Ma said the video included other secretaries whose popularity was also low.

“The only positive reason she talks to her people through a video is that she can hide from all criticisms or questions.”

Additional reporting by Lilian Cheng

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