TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) on Wednesday (Oct. 16) declared that the “five demands” put forth by the Hong Kong protesters are part of a strategy to humiliate and overthrow the government of the special administrative region (SAR).
Speaking at a business conference on Wednesday, Lee firmly expressed his support for the embattled government of Hong Kong, offering his view that the government should not compromise on the five demands of the protesters. Lee advised protesters to remember that Hong Kong is an SAR and not a country, offering his endorsement of Beijing’s “one country, two systems” framework.
Noting that there is “no easy way forward,” Lee tried to offer advice to the beleaguered government of Carrie Lam. Confusingly, Lee advised Lam’s government to reject the demands, yet still suggested that her administration should “progressively tackle the issues which are bugging Hongkongers.”
Lee’s remarks on Wednesday are the strongest statements yet from the leader of Singapore on the unrest in Hong Kong. Lee was quoted by Reuters.
"The demonstrators say they have five major demands and not one can be compromised but those are not demands which are meant to be a program to solve Hong Kong’s problems. Those are demands which are intended to humiliate and bring down the government.”
Lee’s comments came just after Carrie Lam’s planned address on Wednesday was stalled and thwarted by pro-democracy lawmakers, who control almost one-third of the seats in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo). Lee also offered a comment on Lam being forced to abandon her policy address amid the chaos in LegCo on Wednesday.
“When Hong Kong is troubled, when there are demonstrations or worse riots, when the chief executive is booed out of the Legislative Council chamber, I think that is very sad for Hong Kong and bad for the region. We look on with concern.”
Originally, the five demands of the protesters in Hong Kong included withdrawing the extradition bill from consideration, Carrie Lam’s resignation, correcting the government’s characterization of the protests as “riots,” launching an inquiry into police brutality, and the unconditional release of everyone arrested during the protests.
However, after the government agreed to withdraw the extradition bill, protestors replaced the first demand with a demand for universal suffrage and a more democratic system for the SAR. In her brief remarks on Wednesday, Lam rejected the possibility of universal suffrage through political reform as well as mass amnesty for those arrested during clashes with police.
On Wednesday, Lee expressed agreement with Lam on the issue of universal suffrage, stating that “Hong Kong is not a country” and that it must “live and work within that SAR framework,” reports Mothership.