- Chief executive says her administration is committed to listening to the people
- Comments come after hundreds of thousands took to streets in peaceful demonstration over the weekend
Hong Kong's leader has said she is willing to create a platform for dialogue, but will not sanction an independent investigation into police actions during a political crisis that has rocked the city for almost three months.
On Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said her administration would immediately work on setting up a means of finding a solution to the civil unrest triggered by her massively unpopular extradition bill.
But Lam again said the Independent Police Complaints Council was capable of dealing with alleged police misconduct and again dismissed calls for an independent inquiry.
"All my principal officials and I are committed to listening to what the people have to tell us," she said on Tuesday morning.
"I think it is a very sincere expression for my hope to sincerely dialogue with various sectors of the society."
Lam said she would start with approaching people who in the past had proposed talks, and her remarks came two days after hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in a peaceful mass demonstration that passed without any violence or clashes with the police.
"I sincerely hope this is the start of society returning to peace and moving away from violence," Lam said of Sunday's march.
Such days have been rare over the past two months as the campaign against the extradition bill morphed into a full-blown anti-government movement " and as the use of force escalated on both sides.
Lawmakers and protesters have urged Lam to capitalise on the lull, and respond to their list of demands, which includes a complete withdrawal of the now-abandoned extradition bill, and an independent investigation into the police's use of force.
Asked if she would respond to the five main demands from protesters, Lam said the police watchdog would be conducting a fact-finding study, a move first announced last month.
"I hope that this is a very responsible response to the aspirations for better understanding of what has taken place in Hong Kong," Lam said.
She also said more members may be appointed to the IPCC in light of its heavy workload on the study, and that overseas experts would also be invited to offer their advice.
Lam once again ruled out a full withdrawal of the extradition bill, but said there was "no plan to revive this bill, especially in light of the public's concern".
Aside from the full withdrawal of the bill, and an independent inquiry, protesters have also called for Lam to resign, for the government to retract its characterisation of the violent clashes as "riots", and for everyone arrested in connection with the clashes to be freed unconditionally.
Echoing Lam's comments, a source close to the government said the administration was seriously exploring ways to set up a platform, so it could start talking to young protesters as soon as possible.
"It is a matter of how," the source said. "Should the government lead the platform or invite a youth organisation to do it and let the government to play a key role? Who should join the platform? These are questions to be solved."
Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said Lam's proposals would not stem the protests.
"The platform has no statutory status and how are you going to build credibility for it?" said Wu, who believes there may be resistance within the government to an independent inquiry.
But, he said because the last word rested with Lam "if you are determined, who can stop you?"
Additional reporting by Olga Wong
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