Updated: September 03, 2019 10:03 AM GMT
An estimated two million protesters march in Hong Kong on June 16 to demand chief executive Carrie Lam's resignation and withdrawal of the controversial extradition law amendment. (ucanews.com photo)
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has again apologized to the Chinese territory’s people for the conflict over an extradition law amendment that has provoked mass demonstrations.
“The concerns over the past few months have been caused by deficiencies in the work of the SAR government over the amendment exercise. I personally have to shoulder much of the responsibility,” the chief executive told media on June 18.
“This has led to controversies, disputes and anxieties in society. For this I offer my most sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong.”
However, Lam did not agree to the five demands of two million protesters on June 16 to withdraw the extradition bill, retract the characterization of the June 12 protest as a “riot,” seek responsibility from the police over instances of brutality, drop charges against protesters and resign as the city’s leader.
As Lam’s press conference was about to start, the Colloquium of Six Religious Leaders of Hong Kong, which comprises representatives of the Catholic Church, Protestant Church, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Confucianism, released a statement to ask Hong Kong people to accept her apology.
Its statement said Lam had met the religious leaders on June 17 and said she would listen to criticisms sincerely and humbly in future.
It also called on people to return to their daily routines to end the conflict and asked the government to use leniency in meting out punishment to arrested protesters.
The colloquium, led by Cardinal John Tong Hon, met Pope Francis in Rome on June 12.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam arrives to speak at a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 18. (Photo by Anthony Wallace/AFP)
The Anglican Church in Hong Kong released a letter to the faithful about the recent conflict. Its bishops appreciated the youth standing up for the good of the society and hoped Lam could improve herself after the protests.
However, Anglican Archbishop Paul Kwong, a member of the pro-Beijing Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, supported the extradition law amendment before the conflict and appeared to poke fun at young Occupy Central protesters arrested in 2014.
Biddy Kwok, president of the Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong, believes only Lam stepping down from office can solve the social conflict.
“Although she apologized, she did not admit she did wrong and refused to make a correction to withdraw the bill. She only said she will do better in the next three years during her term,” Kwok told ucanews.com.
John Mok Chit-wai, a young Catholic, did not accept Lam’s “sincere apology” as he believes she was not sincere at all.
“She totally ignored the demands of the protesters, such as the complete withdrawal of the bill and to stop charging protesters with rioting. She also strongly defended the police's use of excessive force. How can Hong Kongers accept such an apology?” Mok, 27, told ucanews.com.
Mok also criticized the six religious leaders’ statement.
“The statement asks people to accept Lam's apology and go back to school and work to stop further conflict. But the leaders seem to be ignorant of the source of conflict. The government is the source,” he said.
“They also say that they do not support the use of violence to make demands. How about police violence? How about the police force shooting protesters? It seems to me that the leaders are selectively blind. As religious people, they forget to consult their conscience. This is ridiculous.”