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SCMP Opinion: Carrie Lam Could End the Protests with One Speech

In an opinion piece appearing today in the South China Morning Post, Richard Harris – chief executive of Port Shelter Investment – argues that Carrie Lam could end the protests with a single speech, and he provides the text of such a speech in the article. Key points to his model speech:

  • An apology for proposing and complete withdrawal of the amendments to Hong Kong law allowing extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China for trial and guarantees that it will never be revived.
  • An independent study by an “overseas judge” who will be “be tasked to investigate all aspects of the recent disturbances in Hong Kong,” so that the HK government can learn from the protests and improve.
  • Amnesty from legal action for the protesters.
  • Amnesty from legal action for the HK police.
  • Negotiations between the HK government and the protesters, and amnesty from legal action for the negotiators for the protesters.
  • Significant investment by the HK government into infrastructure, education, increased minimum wage.
  • Review and improvement of the HK government bureaucratic structures.

Many of these proposals make sense, especially complete and utter abolishment of any effort to subject HK citizens to mainland Chinese law, negotiations with the protesters, and legal amnesty. But without concrete, significant, guaranteed steps to give HK citizens more political self-determination, these proposals will be fruitless in the long run. You can only buy people off for so long. Likewise, unless the Beijing government backs negotiations, negotiates in good faith, and honors agreements without restrictions, none of this will make any difference. Negotiations that do not bear results or agreements that Beijing reneges on at their own convenience will just make the HK people angrier.

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