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Hong Kong leader apologizes to public

Published : Sunday, 16 June, 2019 at 10:10 PM  Count : 636

Demonstrators march Sunday in Hong Kong. (Kyle Lam/Bloomberg)

Demonstrators march Sunday in Hong Kong. (Kyle Lam/Bloomberg)

Hong Kong’s chief executive apologized to the public on Sunday after a surprisingly large and defiant crowd poured onto the streets over the handling of politically charged legislation that sparked massive street protests over the past week.

A statement Sunday credited to an unidentified government spokesman said that unspecified "deficiencies in the government's work had led to substantial controversies and disputes in society, causing disappointment and grief among the people,” AP reports.

It said Chief Executive Carrie Lam "apologized to the people of Hong Kong for this and pledged to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public."

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers jammed the city's streets Sunday in a vehement show of opposition to the legislation that has stoked fears of expanding control from Beijing in this former British colony.

Thousands of people have gathered outside Taiwan's parliament in solidarity with Hong Kong protesters who are marching against a proposed extradition bill.

The crowd of Hong Kong students and Taiwanese supporters held a peaceful sit-in in Taipei, the capital of the independently governed island that China claims as its territory.

The group that rallied Sunday said the legislation In Hong Kong also posed a risk to Taiwan.

Hong Kong's leader on Saturday suspended the bill, which would allow some suspects to be sent to mainland China for trials.

Opponents see it as way Beijing is interfering with freedoms promised to Hong Kong when it took control of the former British colony in 1997.

Thousands of Hong Kong residents, mostly in black, have jammed streets and subway stations to protest the government's handling of a proposed extradition bill.

The crowds, walking slowly and shouting "withdraw" and "resign," spilled into the street Sunday from downtown Victoria Park and began marching toward the Central district where the government headquarters is located.

Protesters want Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign and withdraw rather than just suspend the legislation. Lam backed away from pushing through the legislature the measure that would enable suspects to be sent to stand trial in mainland Chinese courts.

Many in Hong Kong fear threats to civil liberties and an independent judicial system that were promised to the former British colony when communist-ruled China took control in 1997.

Hong Kong activists are encouraging the public to support strikes by workers, teachers and students on Monday.

The call comes as Hong Kong residents gather for a march through the downtown on Sunday to protest a government plan to enact extradition legislation. Hong Kong's top leader said she was suspending the proposal but opponents want her to drop it for good.

Bonnie Leung and other leaders of the pro-democracy Civil Human Rights Front say unions, teachers and others would carry on with plans for a strike on Monday as part of the campaign against the extradition bill.

She says, "We encourage all the public to carry on the campaign."

Hong Kong is bracing for another massive protest over an unpopular extradition bill, a week after the crisis brought as many as 1 million into the streets.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Saturday said she was suspending work on the bill that would allow some suspects to be sent for trial in mainland Chinese courts.

But pro-democracy activists say that's not enough. They want the proposal withdrawn and are calling for Lam to step down.

In Beijing, the communist government issued statements backing Lam's decision.

Mourners meanwhile laid flowers Sunday on the pavement near where a man fell to his death a day earlier after hanging a protest banner on scaffolding on a shopping mall.

Emergency workers tried to cushion the man's fall but failed to catch him.

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