Hong Kong protests: Carrie Lam fights back tears following airport sit-in, says demonstrators are attempting to 'destroy the rule of law'

Hong Kong protests: Carrie Lam fights back tears following airport sit-in, says demonstrators are attempting to 'destroy the rule of law'

Speaking at a press conference, the Chief Executive called the city 'seriously wounded', saying it would take a long time to recover

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Carrie Lam appeared on the verge of tears as she spoke to the media on Tuesday.
Photo: Nora Tam

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has warned protesters they were pushing the city “into an abyss” by attacking its institutions, in what she called attempts to “destroy the rule of law”.

The chief executive said the mass sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport, which forced the cancellation of all outgoing Monday flights from 4pm, as well as police station sieges and widespread road blocks during protests, had made the city no longer safe.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday morning before reconvening the Executive Council, her de facto cabinet, Lam said: “Hong Kong is seriously wounded. It will take a long time to recover.”

What else happened during the weekend a woman was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet?

She asked protesters whether they wanted to “push Hong Kong into an abyss”.

“We need to object to violence and maintain the rule of law ... When this all calms down, we will start to have sincere dialogues and rebuild harmony.”

On the airport’s effective closure on Monday, Lam said: “There is no need for me to elaborate on how important the international airport is to Hong Kong."

“Every day, a lot of residents go out and return to the city [through the airport], and many tourists and business people uses this transport hub. But it had to close down on Monday.”

 
But she brushed aside questions about whether she would resign.
 
“I, as chief executive, will be responsible for rebuilding Hong Kong’s economy and to engage as widely as possible, to listen as attentively as possible to people’s grievances, and try to help Hong Kong to move on,” she said.
 
“That's my very serious political commitment and my responsibility to the people of Hong Kong at this point in time.”
 
 
Asked if she would visit the injured woman who was shot in the eye during police clearances of protesters on Sunday, Lam said: “When it’s convenient, I’m willing to do so.”
 
“I’m sad about anyone injured during protests and violent acts, I hope that they will get well soon,” she added.
 
“Especially for this young woman, I appeal to her to report to the police so that we can find out the truth about what happened.”
Chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor speaks during a media briefing before EXCO meeting at the Chief Executive's Office in Tamar.
Photo: SCMP/Nora Tam

But Lam declined to say if police had done anything wrong on Sunday and over the past two months.

On police’s firing of tear gas in Kwai Fong train station and the use of force on an escalator in Tai Koo station on Sunday, Lam said the force had to make difficult decisions.

Students explain why they chose to participate in a sit-in at the airport

“Officials like us have to make policy decisions. Similarly, police officers have to make judgments, and sometimes it’s hard ... and it’s a dilemma for them,” she said, adding police officers could not turn a blind eye and had to enforce the law.

The chief executive also said police had been following guidelines and using minimum force when dealing with protesters.

Lam also declined to say if Beijing had been stopping her from meeting protesters’ demands, such as fully withdrawing the now-shelved extradition bill, and appointing a a judge-led Commission of Inquiry to look into the whole controversy.

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