Hong Kong head Carrie Lam apologizes for extradition bill fiasco

Carrie Lam offers personal apology to Hongkongers for bungling extradition bill

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Screenshot from Lam's news conference.

Screenshot from Lam's news conference.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- At a press conference today (June 18), Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam apologized for her handling of the controversial extradition bill, expressing her sadness about the injuries that occurred during protests against the legislation, but denied that she would step down and left the door open for the bill to be put up for consideration later this year.

At a press conference which started at 4 p.m. this afternoon, Lam started out by saying that she has reflected on "what has transpired" after millions of Hong Kong citizens protested the proposed extradition bill, which would allow suspects to be extradited to China. She then said that she shouldered "most of the responsibility," that she knew "I have to do better," and offered "my most sincere apology to all the people of Hong Kong."

In response to reports of at least 72 being injured during the protests, Lam said she was saddened that "some people, including police and media workers, were injured in the conflicts." Oddly, she left out the fact that most of the injured were peaceful, unarmed protesters.

She then opened up the conference to questions.

When asked if she would retract her description of the protests as "riots," which is one of the demands of the protestors, she said the term was used by police. She said that she does not have the authority to judge what happened, but that she will act on Police Commissioner Stephen Lo's latest clarification saying that the protestors were not involved in a "riot."

When asked the key question of whether the legislative process for the extradition bill would continue, she said it would not be restarted before the end of the legislative term as long as conflict over the bill remains resolved. She said that the government would have to "accept the reality" that the bill may not reach the floor of the legislature before the end of its current session in July of 2020, but she did not completely withdraw the bill, which is a key demand of protestors.

A reporter then asked if she would step down as chief executive, as many protestors are now demanding. She responded by saying, "I've said that I want another chance" and that she hopes to continue serving the public.

Regarding a probe into the use of force by police on June 12, including the firing of water cannons, tear gas, bean bag rounds, and rubber bullets at protestors, Lam did not give a definite answer. She said that Hong Kong has "well-established mechanisms” to enable people to file complaints against the police.

She also did not rule out the possibility that some protestors could face charges for rioting. "If some protesters have resorted to violence and there is sufficient evidence…then of course the police need to take action," said Lam.