Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam apologised again on Tuesday and said she had heard the people "loud and clear" after some of the most violent protests in the Chinese-ruled city against an extradition bill that she promoted and then postponed.
June 18 (UPI) - Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam apologized to the public Tuesday following mass protests on the island over a controversial bill but did not offer her resign as demonstrators had demanded.
"I personally have to shoulder much of the responsibility", she said.
The idea of losing face - being publicly embarrassed - is a major cultural touchstone in China.
Asked by CBS News during her news conference whether her decision not to retract the bill might deepen distrust in her among Hong Kong residents, Lam said she would "not proceed again with this legislative exercise if these fears and anxieties can not be adequately addressed".
All but a handful of protesters in Hong Kong have gone home, but the crisis that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets to oppose an extradition bill is far from over.
Hordes of people have been streaming through the streets for more than a week to voice their opposition to a proposed law that would allow suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China to stand trial.
"If the bill does not make legislative council by July next year, it will expire and the government will accept that reality", she promised. That would follow a peaceful but rousing march Sunday by some 2 million people anxious that the legislation would further compromise the dwindling autonomy of the former British colony.
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The state-run China Daily said in an editorial that the bill was put on hold "so as to remove the excuse for the violence being instigated by those who do not have (Hong Kong's) best interests at heart".
The way forward for both Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her opponents is uncertain because of the limits built into the city's "one country, two systems" arrangement with Beijing after Britain ceded control of the former colony in 1997. She said that she does not have the authority to judge what happened, but that she will act on Police Commissioner Stephen Lo's latest clarification saying that the protestors were not involved in a "riot".
The plans touched a nerve in Hong Kong, a city anxious over the increasingly authoritarian Communist rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Hong Kong resident Mary Hui said in a tweet "Hong Kong is lovely".
In an interview outside government headquarters, Wong was scathing in his criticism of Lam and her administration, especially police officers who used tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue protesters during clashes last week.
They have also asked for all charges to be dropped against anyone detained during the protests.
"It's really hard for her to govern", said Sing.
Another protester, a woman surnamed Li, said that she had not left the demonstration zone since June 17.
Joshua Wong, the student leader of the Umbrella Movement democracy protest in 2014 who was released from prison on Monday, said it was time for the pro-establishment camp to pay the price and they should start worrying about the result of the coming election.
Lam has insisted the legislation is needed for Hong Kong to uphold justice and not become a magnet for fugitives.