ong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has proclaimed that the controversial extradition bill which has caused millions of Hongkongers to take to the streets over the last month is “dead” — though many remain concerned that it may be able to somehow semantically rise from the grave.
The bill would allow suspects to be taken to mainland China for trial. It has inspired fear and anger resulting in marches of historic proportions in Hong Kong along with protesters besieging the city’s police headquarters and storming parliament.
Following violent clashes between protesters and police in mid-June, Lam announced that the bill would be “suspended” but stopped short of a formal withdrawal, helping to spur on weeks more of demonstrations.
On Tuesday morning, the Hong Kong leader held another press conference, declaring, in English, that the bill is “dead” and that it had been a “complete failure.”
While that might seem clear and definite enough, the Cantonese portion of the presser has raised eyebrows considerably with Lam using the idiom “壽終正寢” (Shòuzhōngzhèngqǐn) to describe the bill, a phrase that is generally used for when someone dies of old age.
Protesters have argued that this clearly is not an accurate description of the bill’s demise and have noted that is also definitely not that magic w-word — “withdrawal.”
Lam seems constitutionally incapable of conceding any point fully. Extradition law is “dead” (actual term she used below, trans via @plecosoft) but she can not bring herself to say “withdrawn”; police violence will be investigated by IPCC but not by independent commission. https://t.co/TdEa9JGGOV pic.twitter.com/yDvq0ISqqX
— Antony Dapiran (@antd) July 9, 2019
Carrie Lam invokes the Chinese expression 壽終正寢 (akin to “breathe one’s last” or “rest in peace”) to declare her extradition proposal dead, falling short of fully retracting the unpopular bill. It seems no amount of humble pie is sufficient to make her say the word “withdraw.” pic.twitter.com/Id2I2RcKLl
— Jason Y. Ng (@jasonyng) July 9, 2019
[THREAD: Fed up with Carrie Lam's wordplay]
1. What #CarrieLam saying “the Bill is dead” is another ridiculous lie to the people of #HongKong and foreign media because the bill still exists in the ''legislative programme'' until July next year.
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 (@joshuawongcf) July 9, 2019
Some have speculated that Lam’s refusal to say “withdrawal” is indicative of her “arrogance,” while others worry that it may be a sneaky way of keeping the door open for the bill’s revival in the future. For her part, Lam says that “dead” is even more definite than “withdrawal” since even if it is withdrawn, it could be proposed again months later.
Either way, Lam once again failed to endear herself to protesters with this latest press conference, essentially dismissing each of their five demands in one way or another — refusing to resign from her position as chief executive, to set up an independent inquiry into police abuse, and to release arrested protesters.