HONG KONG (Xinhua) — Chief Executive of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam said Thursday at the first “Community Dialogue” session that she hopes to “seek change for the betterment of Hong Kong society” through continued dialogues with the public.
In her opening speech at the session, Lam stressed that the dialogue is “not just for the sake of dialogue, nor is it a public relations tactic.”
“It is to seek change for the betterment of Hong Kong society,” she said, adding that she hopes more dialogues in different forms will be continuously held in the future in different parts of Hong Kong and more members of the public can participate.
The first “Community Dialogue” session, held Thursday evening at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai, was attended by four secretaries of the HKSAR government and about 150 members of the public selected by computer lot drawing from the over 20,000 people who had registered for attending the session.
Lam said Hong Kong residents, irrespective of their status and position, felt pain, anxiety and anger in the past three months, and the HKSAR government should shoulder the major responsibility for finding a way out of the current impasse.
Acknowledging the shrinking public confidence in the HKSAR government and in herself, the chief executive said “direct dialogue should be initiated no matter how difficult it is.”
“I hope we can take the difficult first step with the understanding and support of the public,” she said.
Ballots were drawn to select speakers from the audience, each of whom could speak within three minutes. The chief executive and other officials occasionally responded to the speakers.
Both protesters and opponents of the protests have spoken out during the interactive section, which saw repeated mentions of housing problems, social inequality and politicizing of education, among others.
One female speaker opposed students’ participation in protests and blamed some teachers, social welfare practitioners and religious groups for instigating protests.
“Students are not mature enough to engage in politics,” she said, adding that partiality in the liberal studies course had a bad influence on Hong Kong students.
She also blasted fake journalists and biased media reports for stirring up troubles, winning thunderous applause from the audience.
A man who identified himself as among the “peaceful, rational and non-violent” protesters, said he was dissatisfied with the social gap and chaos today.
“We all have families and children, I don’t know how to hand the future to our next generation,” he said, expressing hope that peace could be restored soon.
Another speaker noted Hong Kong’s exorbitant house prices and yawning wealth gap and asked Lam if measures would be taken to help the young people in terms of housing and employment.
Since June, Hong Kong has witnessed escalating violence that originated from protests over the proposed ordinance amendments concerning fugitive offenders transfers.
Though the HKSAR government has withdrawn the amendments, violence continued as protesters veered off their original agenda to raise the ante, causing a split in society and taking a heavy toll on the economy.