Hong Kong’s embattled leader has faced stark criticism in her meetings with pro-democracy protesters.
Carrie Lam, the controversial China-backed leader turned to conciliatory talks with protesters to find a peaceful solution to the 90-day long protests. Carrie Lam faced more than two hours of grilling at a public “dialogue session” on Thursday night. Initially, she invited 30 people from the protesters side to express their views. Hundreds of anti-government protesters chanted slogans outside the meeting’s venue when the talk was progressing inside.
Lam received little sympathy from audience members who rounded on her in speech after speech highlighting a litany of complaints towards her administration. Most called on her to launch an independent commission of inquiry into allegations of police brutality and how the protests have been handled. Many blamed the police brutality.
Others called for universal suffrage. Currently the chief executive is chosen by a pro-Beijing committee and only half the city’s lawmakers are directly elected.
One speaker likened Hong Kong’s condition to having cancer. Of the 30 people chosen to speak throughout the evening, 24 openly criticised the government, two made neutral comments and four expressed sympathy for Lam’s administration.
Lam intend to hold talks with 150 members of the community, with each participant to be given around three minutes to express their views. Lam is a Hong Kong politician serving as the 4th Chief Executive of Hong Kong since 2017. Lam's administration has been mired in numerous controversies including the trial and imprisonment of activists as well as the disqualification of several pro-democracy candidates and the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party. In 2019, Lam’s government pushed for the controversial amendment to the extradition law. The widespread opposition to the bill and Lam's hard-line approach on the issue sparked massive protests attended by nearly two million protesters who called for the withdrawal of the bill and her resignation. What started as protests over a now-shelved extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial have evolved into broader calls for greater democracy, among other demands.