Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, dodges protest demands in policy report

Inkstone 發布於 2019年10月16日13:10

Hong Kong's leader offered no immediate solutions to resolve continuing unrest in her first major policy speech since anti-government protests broke out in June.

Calling the crisis in the former British colony "the most formidable challenge" since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997, Chief Executive Carrie Lam ruled out giving in to more demands from protesters.

Large-scale demonstrations began in June in opposition to an unpopular bill feared to erode the political firewall between Beijing and Hong Kong, which is governed under an arrangement known as "one country, two systems."

Demonstrations that started as large-scale but peaceful marches have escalated into frequent clashes with riot police.

While Lam has vowed to drop the bill, which would have allowed extradition to mainland China, the protests have escalated into a movement demanding greater accountability and democratic reforms.

The nearly weekly street battles between protesters and riot police have shaken the semi-autonomous Chinese city's image as a stable financial hub and contributed to a recession.

Lam has refused to give in to more of the protesters' demands, instead doubling down on curbing the unrest with the city's embattled police force.

"So long as Hong Kong remains impeded by unresolved disputes, ongoing violence, confrontation and discord, our city cannot embark on the road to reconciliation," she said.

Hong Kong has been ranked as the world's least affordable housing market since 2010, according to a global study by Demographia.

Lam also announced measures meant to help citizens buy their own homes in the world's least affordable property market.

Calling housing "a source of public grievances," Lam promised to build more public housing, boost land supply and relax mortgage requirements for first-time homebuyers.

She vowed to create land for development by building massive artificial islands, a plan that critics said is too costly and could devastate the marine environment.

Pro-democracy lawmakers and supporters of the protests chastised Lam for failing to offer any solution to the political issues fueling weeks of angry protests.

Hong Kong's leader said the city entered a recession in the third quarter. Tourism has been one of the areas hit hardest by the continuing protests.

"The policy address is irrelevant. The government is irrelevant and Carrie Lam is irrelevant," said Kenneth Leung, a pro-democracy lawmaker.

James To, another pro-democracy lawmaker and a supporter of the protests, said Lam was "living in a parallel universe."

Earlier during the day, pro-democracy members of the city's 70-strong Legislative Council repeatedly heckled Lam.

Lam was forced to speak through a video feed, the first time a Hong Kong leader delivered a policy address remotely.

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