In what is becoming a recurring theme as the city struggles to cope with ever-intensifying unrest, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam today gave a press conference in which she complained of ongoing protests’ effect on business, while yet again refusing to address in any meaningful fashion the substance of protesters’ demands.
Lam maintained that the economic impact of the protests — which were first sparked when her administration tried to pass a deeply unpopular extradition bill — was worse than that of the SARS outbreak of 2003, and accused protesters of “destroying Hong Kong’s economy” because “they have no stake in the society which so many people have helped to build.”
“The coming policy address is important especially with the risk of an economic downturn — actually the economic tsunami has already appeared,” Lam said. “I will take more bold measures to help Hong Kong’s economy and give it more momentum.”
“As to placating the protesters, our treatment of them will be according to the law. If they do something illegal, then they will be arrested and placed before court for trial,” she added. “I know people are dissatisfied with the extradition bill or other government’s actions. The dissatisfaction with HKSAR government should not be used to condone violence, or condone large scale acts that disrupt Hong Kong’s economy.”
Lam has proven herself unwilling to give an inch, even as massive, and increasingly violent, protests have wracked the city for more than two months.
Police have scrambled to keep up with protesters’ guerrilla-style tactics, but have appeared to strengthen their resolve to decisively quash unrest after recent assurances of support from Lam and her handlers in Beijing.
Meanwhile, the anger from the pro-democracy protesters at Lam’s unwillingness to engage with their demands — which include the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, an investigation into police’s use of force, and universal suffrage — is practically palpable.