‘Not a change of mind’: Lam says extradition bill was already dead

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive, Carrie Lam, said it was her government’s decision, and not Beijing’s, to respond to a single protester demand and withdraw the extradition bill.

Fronting the media on Thursday, Lam repeated many of the points she had made when announcing the formal withdrawal of the bill in a pre-recorded televised address the night before. The withdrawal would be formally announced in the Legislative Council by the security minister when the legislature resumed in October and would not require a vote, she said.

Carrie Lam holds a press conference on Thursday as Matthew Cheung, chief secretary, left, and Lau Kong-wah, secretary for home affairs, look on.Credit:Bloomberg

The decision to withdraw the bill was not a change of mind because she had already pronounced it “dead”, she said. The central government in Beijing supported her decisions in handling the crisis, she said.

Hong Kong’s morning television news showed school children continuing to protest outside school gates including the prestigious King’s College, chanting “Five key demands, not one less”.

But Lam said she did not agree to another key protester demand – establishing an independent inquiry into police conduct. She continued to insist the matter be dealt with by an existing police oversight body and denied the watchdog was pro-government.

She said her plan would include holding dialogue with community leaders and had “one purpose – to find a way to break the impasse in Hong Kong, but it needs citizen’s cooperation”.

Lam said police would continue to take action against protesters to “stop violence”.

The withdrawal announcement came after 13 weeks of protests that have grown increasingly violent, and amid speculation she is preparing to introduce emergency laws.

Overnight petrol bombs were thrown at the gate of the home of Jimmy Lai, the media tycoon who has been repeatedly attacked by Beijing state media as a “black hand” behind the protests.

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