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Carrie Lam Would Quit “If She Could.” What is the Path Forward?

Multiple news sources are posting on a Reuters report on Carrie Lam’s talk with a group of business leaders. Reuters obtained a leaked audio recording of Lam’s remarks.

During her talk, Lam said she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by introducing the extradition bill, and that she now has very limited room to maneuver politically to resolve the crisis, as it has become a national security issue for the Beijing government.

If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology.

Carrie Lam in Reuters report on her remarks to Hong Kong business leaders

It’s nice that Lam recognizes her enormous blunder, but at this point it is really too late for regrets. Since Beijing has elevated the crisis to a national level, and is not willing to back down lest it “lose face,” Lam must do everything that she can to convince Beijing to completely withdraw the bill. She must also try to restore the Hong Kong government’s relationship with the people to the state it was in before she introduced the bill. This is a next-to-impossible task, given that she has already (no doubt at Beijing’s orders) flatly rejected all of the protesters’ demands, and given the police brutality experienced by the people of Hong Kong. Restoring trust in the government and in the police will be a long-term, arduous, and challenging process, and that process cannot begin at all as long as Beijing and the HK government will not negotiate with the protesters in good faith.

Why Beijing would want Lam to remain in office at this point is very difficult to understand. She has proven herself incapable of handling the crisis and incompetent as a chief executive. Her personal regrets and misgivings are signs that she perhaps has learned something from her mistakes, but if Beijing will not allow her to act on what she has learned, her new understanding of the situation is meaningless for Hong Kong.

What would a reasonable path forward look like? In our opinion, the Hong Kong government, with the support of Beijing, can start by doing these things:

  1. Remove Carrie Lam from office (accept her resignation) and elect/appoint a chief executive respected by the protesters and acceptable to Beijing.
  2. Release an announcement by the new chief executive that the extradition bill has been completely withdrawn and will not be resurrected under any circumstances. Re-affirm the “one country, two systems” principles and the Basic Law. Reject any pressure by Beijing to erode the rights of the Hong Kong people.
  3. Announce a general recognition of the Hong Kong people’s right to assemble and have their grievances addressed in stated in the Basic Law; stop the “white terror” at Hong Kong businesses (e.g. Cathay Pacific Airlines). Reject pressure from Beijing to make HK businesses comply with their demands that are not in accordance with Hong Kong law.
  4. Announce a general amnesty for all protesters and release any still held, with some exceptions (maybe) for those involved in extreme assaults against police.
  5. Remove riot police and other special tactics units from the streets, unless extreme elements within the protest groups continue attacks against police, civilians, infrastructure, or government buildings and property. Strictly instruct and train riot police and special tactics units that they cannot violate the rights of the people, and that they cannot under any circumstances use violent tactics, unless they encounter resistance, and even then, limited force may only be used in order to secure an arrest. Violations of people’s rights or excessive force by police must be met by dismissal from the police force and potential prosecution.
  6. Remove any and all CCP-controlled personnel (People’s Armed Police or other infiltrators) from the HK police force.
  7. Independently investigate and remove any police officers identified as having used excessive force from their duties, and prosecute those that used extreme violence without any justifiable cause. The HK police leadership must not be seen as protecting officers violating the law and the rights of the people.
  8. Re-affirm the rule of law and allow the people of Hong Kong to freely elect their own representatives to the government, per the agreements between China and the U.K in the handover treaties and as set down in the Basic Law, reversing the CCP Standing Committee’s ruling on universal suffrage.

In short, the Hong Kong government should meet the protesters Five Demands.

Finally, if Beijing wants to truly restore Hong Kong, it should announce that the Basic Law will be the governing law in Hong Kong in perpetuity, not just until 2047. Although the Hong Kong people, with good reason, do not trust Beijing, only that step will truly have a chance of giving the people of Hong Kong confidence that their freedom in the future is ensured.

We understand that the CCP will not take our recommendations on this matter; nevertheless, this is what we believe to be reasonable and necessary steps for Hong Kong to be truly restored.

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