Hong Kong/Jakarta/Singapore (21/09). The Hong Kong government on Thursday (Sep 19) set the rules for an open dialogue between leader Carrie Lam and the public next week, telling those taking part to be “orderly” and not bring along loudhailers, bunting or umbrellas.
Next Thursday’s talks in the Chinese-ruled city, the scene of more than three months of sometimes violent anti-government protests, will be open to 150 people who must apply online.
“The session will be an open-dialogue platform aimed at reaching out to the public to invite people from all walks of life to express their views to the government, so as to fathom the discontent in society and to look for solutions,” the government said in a statement.
Lam promised to hold the talks to try to end the disruptions in the Asian financial hub.
“To ensure the safety of others, participants should behave in an orderly manner. Participants should not bring any materials which the organiser considers possible to disrupt the event or cause nuisance, inconvenience or danger to other parties.”
Such items included “loudhailers/sound amplifiers, umbrellas, defensive equipment (such as mask respirators and helmets), flags, banners, buntings, any plastic, glass, metal bottles or containers, bottled or canned drinks, etc.,” it said.
Protesters, many of them masked and using umbrellas to hide behind and defend themselves again water cannon, have caused havoc around the city in recent weeks, throwing petrol bombs at police, storming the Legislative Council, trashing metro stations and lighting fires on the streets.
Police have responded with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.
Amnesty International accused Hong Kong police on Friday (Sep 20) of torture and other abuses in their handling of more than three months of protests, but the police say they have shown restraint on the street in the face of increased violence.
Responding to the Amnesty report, police said they have respected the “privacy, dignity and rights” of those in custody according to regulations, allowing detainees transport to hospitals and communication with lawyers and their families.
“The force to be used by police shall be the minimum force necessary for achieving a lawful purpose,” police said in an emailed statement.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that ensures freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including right of assembly and an independent judiciary.
Demonstrators are angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing, despite the promise of autonomy and the protests have broadened into calls for universal suffrage.
China says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” arrangement and denies interfering. It has accused foreign powers, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the unrest and told them to mind their own business.
Meanwhile, The Hong Kong government said a giant firework display over the harbour to mark Chinese National Day planned for Oct 1 had been called off “in view of the latest situation and having regard to public safety”.
Hong Kong’s Jockey Club cancelled Wednesday’s races after protesters said they would target the Happy Valley racecourse where a horse part-owned by a pro-China lawmaker was due to run.
Hong Kong’s Jockey Club cancelled all races planned for Wednesday (Sep 18) after pro-democracy protesters said they would target the Happy Valley racecourse where a horse part-owned by a pro-China lawmaker was due to run.
Happy Valley, nestled in the hills of Hong Kong island, is a tightly populated, up-market residential area next to the Causeway Bay shopping district. There has been a horse-racing track there since just after British colonial rule began in the mid-1800s.
A horse called Hong Kong Bet that had been due to run in the evening programme is part-owned by lawmaker Junius Ho, who has taken a firm line on the protesters, calling them “black-shirted thugs”.
“A lot of people (deeply regret) such a decision being taken and are worried about the negative impact that (it) may bring to Hong Kong racing and Hong Kong as an international city as well as a leader in the horse-racing world,” he said in a statement.