- Lam left the chamber twice before finally delivering her speech via video link.
- In her video-recorded speech, Lam said the territory was facing a "serious crisis," and warned that "continued violence and the spread of hatred will erode Hong Kong values."
- The speech came just hours after the US House of Representatives passed bills providing for sanctions against Beijing if China does not respect civil liberties in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was forced on Wednesday to stop delivering her speech on future policies for the Special Administrative Region. She had earlier tried to deliver the speech in the Legislative Council amid protests by parliamentarians. After a second attempt was interrupted by lawmakers, Lam ended up delivering the speech via video.
As the Hong Kong leader began to speak, lawmakers sang songs in defense of democracy, opened protest posters, and waved red-painted hands, symbolizing blood. Lawmakers have called for the Chief Executive’s resignation. After the first wave of protests, Lam stopped her speech and left the chamber, but returned minutes later to try to continue the speech. Again, she failed to make the speech. About an hour later, after leaving, the Chief Executive delivered her speech via video link.
Lam’s failure to deliver her speech before parliamentarians marked a new setback for the government, in the midst of the ongoing Hong Kong protests. The protests began in June in opposition to a bill, which has since been withdrawn, that would have enabled the extradition of suspected criminals to mainland China, had it seen the light of the day. The protests have, however, evolved into a pro-democracy campaign that has resulted in violent clashes in Hong Kong.
In her video-recorded speech, Lam said the territory was facing a “serious crisis,” and warned that “continued violence and the spread of hatred will erode Hong Kong values.” The leader also announced measures to reduce the housing deficit. Dissatisfaction with the high price of real estate is one of the reasons for the protests, especially among young people.
“We are determined to create home ownership opportunities for people of different income groups such that they will happily make Hong Kong their home,” said Lam, who again declined to resign. She also announced the nationalization of 700 hectares of private property.
The speech came just hours after the US House of Representatives passed bills providing for sanctions against Beijing if China does not respect civil liberties in Hong Kong. Beijing has however, pledged retaliation if the measures take effect and has expressed “deep indignation” over possible US interference. “Hong Kong belongs to China, and territory matters are China’s internal affairs,” said Chinese diplomacy spokesman Geng Shuang.
The current wave of protests is the largest against the Chinese government since Hong Kong was returned by the United Kingdom to China in 1997. The return process was signed in 1984, in which the Chinese pledged to implement the “one country, two systems” model, which provided for the maintenance of existing economic and social systems and a high degree of autonomy (except in defense and foreign affairs) for the territory for at least 50 years.
Since then, Hong Kong has had the status of a Special Administrative Region within China, with its own legislation guaranteeing, for example, freedom of expression and assembly, and allowing the territory to remain an important financial and commercial center. Despite autonomy, the Chinese have the final say in Hong Kong, and the opposition mainly complains about excessive Chinese interference, saying that China is not strictly complying with what it agreed with the British.