Hong Kong protests: Carrie Lam holds meeting with district councillors; only one in five attend

Hong Kong protests: Carrie Lam holds meeting with district councillors; only one in five attend

Major parties boycotted the dialogue, and those who attended urged her to speak to the public face-to-face

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam meets with district councillors on Wednesday evening.
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

Pro-establishment allies snubbed Carrie Lam as she held a meeting with the city's district councillors on Wednesday night. Only about one-fifth of the 458 councillors invited to meet Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor showed up, and those who participated urged her to go down to listen to ordinary Hongkongers.

A handful of pan-democrats were among the 98 attendees, as the major parties boycotted the dialogue amid the ongoing anti-government protests that have rocked the city for 15 weeks.

During the two-hour session, about 38 district councillors, including four in the pro-democracy camp, were given three minutes each to speak.

Attendees said Lam gave short remarks at the start and end of the meeting and she did not respond to councillors’ specific views.

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According to a recording, Lam concluded the session by telling councillors her administration would continue to listen to public views.
 
“I have heard clearly that you hope [officials] will spend more time communicating with the public,” Lam said, reiterating that she would kick off dialogue sessions with the public next week.
 
The pan-democrats, including a group of five Sha Tin district councillors, attended the meeting wearing black – in line with the anti-government protesters’ dress code – while others demonstrated with placards outside the venue.
 
Wednesday’s closed-door meeting had a house rule barring attendees from bringing helmets, recording, or live streaming the event.
(From left) District councillors Ng Kam-hung, Ting Tsz-yuen, Lai Tsz-yan, Yau Man-chun and Sunny Chui protest outside the government office before meeting Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Photo: Winson Wong/SCMP

But Sunny Chiu Chu-pong, a pan-democrat from Sha Tin, disobeyed the order, briefly live streaming to his Facebook page before being made to stop.

Sai Kung district councillor Christine Fong Kwok-shan said Lam should not be afraid of being scolded by the public.

“If they hurl abuse at you, you just tell them not to use foul language,” Fong said. “But the government has to go to the streets.”

The Liberal Party’s Jeremy Young Chit-on, of The Peak constituency, hoped officials could have more direct communication with the public and a better understating with youngsters through social media.

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Sha Tin district councillor Lai Tsz-yan slammed the session as a “political show”.

“It is only for themselves, for the top officials to cosy up with the pro-establishment camp,” Lai said.

The meeting was held just two months before the district council elections on November 24 and many pro-establishment councillors who fear the effect the crisis will have on their chances of re-election snubbed it.

Judy Chan Ka-pui, of the New People’s Party, said she had better things to do in her neighbourhood.

District councillor Christine Fong said Carrie Lam should not be afraid of being scolded by the public.
Photo: Winson Wong/SCMP

“I would rather walk around in my district than be locked up for two hours,” Chan said. “I doubt Lam is going to say anything surprising.”

Nixie Lam Lam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, also said she was uninterested.

“I don’t want to spend a long time travelling for little or even zero chance to speak,” she said.

Yet, Lam’s DAB party colleagues Edward Lau Kwok-fun and Holden Chow Ho-ding, both lawmakers, attended.

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“We can’t expect the government to solve the crisis in one meeting, but it is a good start for them to listen more,” Chow said.

Among the pro-democracy camp, the Democratic Party, Civic Party and Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood made their boycott clear.

“The demands of the public are crystal clear. It is pointless going,” Lo Kin-hei, vice-chairman of the Democratic Party, said.

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Kerry Hoo

17:04pm