Lam ap­peals for calm in Hong Kong

Rule of law called pri­or­ity to keep city away from ‘abyss of de­struc­tion’

China Daily Global Edition (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By HE SHUSI in Hong Kong and HONG XIAO in New York

Hong Kong Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor ap­pealed to the pub­lic on Tues­day to calm down, set aside dif­fer­ences on po­lit­i­cal is­sues and op­pose escalating vi­o­lence that is push­ing the city into “the abyss of de­struc­tion”.

The leader of the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion made the re­marks be­fore a weekly meet­ing of the Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil, her top pol­icy ad­vi­sory body. The meet­ing was held two weeks be­fore the end of its sum­mer re­cess, as Lam con­sid­ered that more as­sis­tance is needed in Hong Kong’s dif­fi­cult time.

“The top pri­or­ity now is to op­pose vi­o­lence and safe­guard the rule of law,” Lam said. “Ra­tio­nal dis­cus­sions will start af­ter the city’s law and or­der is re­stored. And that’s when we can mend what has been rifted.”

Lam called on the pub­lic to take a sec­ond to re­flect and look at the city, which has been torn apart since June 9 by protests that turned res­i­den­tial and busi­ness ar­eas into con­flict zones.

Large-scale protests in the past week in­cluded ob­struc­tion of pub­lic trans­porta­tion and ma­jor roads, vi­o­lent clashes with po­lice in mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions, and un­law­ful demon­stra­tions in the air­port that forced all flights to be can­celed on Mon­day af­ter­noon. In ad­di­tion, all de­part­ing flights were can­celed on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Lam said the chief ex­ec­u­tive’s re­spon­si­bil­ity is to en­sure that Hong Kong re­mains a safe and lawabid­ing city. “Be­cause with­out the rule of law, with­out law and or­der in Hong Kong, it is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for the 7 mil­lion peo­ple in Hong Kong to live in peace and or­der,” she said.

Mean­while, Sin­ga­porean Min­is­ter for Law and Home Af­fairs K Shan­mugam has said in­ter­na­tional news me­dia have pre­sented a “con­fused” pic­ture of events in Hong Kong, and Sin­ga­pore will never ben­e­fit from troubles there.

“If you look at it in­ter­na­tion­ally, out­siders look­ing in, I think a con­fused, mud­died pic­ture has been pre­sented be­cause in­ter­na­tional news or­ga­ni­za­tions have dealt with very su­per­fi­cial anal­y­sis, en­gaged in la­bel­ing,” Shan­mugam told Hong Kong’s South China Morn­ing Post and Sin­ga­pore’s Lianhe Zaobao, the largest Chi­nese-lan­guage news­pa­per in Sin­ga­pore.

“(In their view), all pro­test­ers are au­to­mat­i­cally, gen­er­ally, democ­racy fight­ers. Po­lice on the other hand, are op­pres­sive, at­tack­ing the forces of democ­racy, us­ing ex­ces­sive force. ‘They’re neg­a­tive, they’re an evil force,’” he said, ac­cord­ing to tran­scripts posted on the min­istry’s web­site on Sun­day.

Such cov­er­age re­flects a skewed per­spec­tive from an ide­o­log­i­cal lens, he said.

Shan­mugam said he did not be­lieve that Sin­ga­pore ben­e­fits from the troubles in Hong Kong, in ref­er­ence to re­ports that some busi­ness­peo­ple based in Hong Kong had be­gun mov­ing their as­sets overseas.

“We ben­e­fit from sta­bil­ity across the re­gion, in­clud­ing Hong Kong,” he said. “If China does well, Hong Kong does well, the re­gion does well, we do well.”

He said that there are many Sin­ga­pore­ans who be­lieve they are lucky that sim­i­lar things are not hap­pen­ing in Sin­ga­pore.

“If this hap­pened to us, it would be bad for our econ­omy, and we don’t have the ad­van­tages Hong Kong has to weather such a sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

“Hong Kong has the huge ad­van­tage of China’s sup­port. Sin­ga­pore has no one to sup­port it.”

He said Hong Kong pos­sesses deep strengths, in­clud­ing its financial sys­tem, stock ex­change and prox­im­ity to the main­land, all of which savvy in­vestors would note, ac­cord­ing to the SCMP re­port.

“Un­less peo­ple be­come pes­simistic about China, I don’t see im­me­di­ate cal­cu­la­tions be­ing made by se­ri­ous in­vestors,” he said.

Shan­mugam also said China’s sys­tem se­lects com­pe­tent, good peo­ple in the gov­ern­ment, and that not enough credit is given to China’s ma­jor achieve­ment to lift hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple out of poverty over the past three decades.

“No coun­try has done that in his­tory, in 35 years,” he said. “Could that have been achieved un­der any of the other sys­tems? The Chi­nese lead­ers will also ask you about the well-be­ing of the peo­ple in China. Is there a sys­tem, a po­lit­i­cal sys­tem that can do bet­ter for the peo­ple of China, com­pared with the cur­rent sys­tem?”

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