CE: First session of public dialogue next week

HONG KONG (China Daily/ANN) - Much awiated inaugural session of the public dialogue with the people of Hong Kong will be held next week.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Tuesday that the inaugural session of the much-awaited dialogue with the people of Hong Kong will be held next week.

At a customary press briefing ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said 100 to 200 people from all walks of life would be invited to next week’s talks to discuss the deep-rooted problems that the city is facing. The meeting will be open to the press.

Lam added that the dialogue would be adapted to a number of formats, including discussions with randomly selected representatives and in-depth dialogues with small groups of people drawn from different backgrounds.

The efforts of building such a platform received positive feedback from the public, she said. The process has answered previous calls made by many local organizations for the government to reach out to the public, Lam said.

Lam said that amid the escalating violence that has roiled the city for more than three months, she considered dialogues to be key in way forward for society to break the political impasse. “Communication is better than confrontation,” the CE said.

On Sept 4, Lam announced four initiatives, including the withdrawal of the then already-suspended extradition bill, to pave the way for effective societal communication.

Lam said she recently held 100 closed-door meetings, discussing with groups of representatives from a cross section of society, including some protesters, to help put the city back on track.

Noting that the public consultation for the upcoming Policy Address, expected to be delivered in October, was under way, Lam said about 20 sessions had been held so far. The CE said the sessions also included a four-hour meeting with more than 30 real estate experts held yesterday.

Last Friday, Lam invited more than 400 members from the city’s 18 district councils to attend a two-hour dialogue at the Central Government Offices slated for Wednesday.

Lam emphasised that building a platform for dialogue didn’t mean a relaxation in law enforcement. Stopping violence and bringing offenders to justice continued to remain the government’s top priority, she said.

Police impartial in enforcing the law

Lam refuted allegations that the city’s police had made selective arrests, singularly targeting anti-government protesters while allowing pro-government vigilantes to go free. She stressed that police had always enforced the law in an impartial manner and made arrests in strict accordance with the law based on evidence.

“So nobody should speculate or allege that either my government or police is being selective in the work that we are doing. This is something which is not acceptable in a place like Hong Kong,” Lam said.

Anti-government protests have continued despite the government officially withdrawing the extradition bill. The past weekend saw radicals resorting to extreme acts of vandalism with the violence widening to assault on people professing different political views.

Moody’ Investors Service downgraded the credit outlook of Hong Kong from “stable” to “negative” on Monday, citing doubts whether Hong Kong can uphold the principle of “one country, two systems” at a time when the city is becoming more integrated with the mainland’s economy.

Lam said the government regretted Moody’s decision but conceded that instability and social unrest in the city would inevitably undermine and adversely affect international perception of Hong Kong.


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