ollowing almost three months of the worst chaos that Hong Kong has seen in decades, the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, has finally formally withdrawn the controversial extradition bill which sparked this whole mess.
In a brief televised address, Lam said that her government will formally withdraw the bill “in order to fully allay public concerns.”
She also mentioned three other measures that the government would take to try to end the protests: appointing two new members to a police watchdog agency, holding a series of community dialogues, and having experts investigate social problems.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has announced that her government will formally withdraw the controversial extradition bill. pic.twitter.com/D74RiSr3qD
— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) September 4, 2019
Previously, Lam had suspended the extradition bill, which would have allowed criminal suspects to be taken to mainland China, and even called it “dead” but had refused to formally withdraw it, much to the anger of protesters who made its withdrawal one of their five demands.
The move comes following a particularly rough few days for Lam during which audio was leaked of her saying at a private meeting that she would quit if she had the choice. At a damage-control press conference on Tuesday morning, she insisted that she had never considered resigning and that staying on was her own choice.
In the leaked audio, Lam implies that Beijing is running the response to the demonstrations, explaining that she has “very, very, very limited” political room for maneuvering. Last week, Reuters reported that Lam had proposed withdrawing the extradition bill to calm tensions but that Beijing had rejected her proposal.
It remains to be seen if the bill’s withdrawal will actually change anything. While it may have been the solution months ago, demonstrators in Hong Kong have piled up many more grievances in the past 13 weeks and Lam failed to address any of their other four demands including universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into allegations of police brutality.
Joshua Wong, for instance, has called the measure “too little and too late.”
Initial response to Carrie Lam:
1. Too little and too late now — Carrie Lam's response comes after 7 lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protestors arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station.
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 (@joshuawongcf) September 4, 2019
Lam’s belated response has even been memed.
(English version for sharing) Oh the classic meme – Carrie Lam late for 3 months lol pic.twitter.com/TvXLyR2Myo
— Hong Kong Meme Translator (@a_88519) September 4, 2019