Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday rejected suggestions that China was stopping her from stepping down from her post, saying it was her choice to stay as she wanted to solve the city’s ongoing problems.
Lam’s remarks come a day after the leaking of an audio recording, suggesting that she had said in a closed-door meeting she would quit given the choice, for causing “unforgivable havoc” to the city, the South China Morning Post reported.
“About resignation, I said on several occasions previously and also affirmed by my colleagues in the Chief Executive’s Office in response to media enquiries that throughout this period … I have never tendered resignation to the central people’s government,” Lam said.
“I have not even contemplated discussing resignation with the central people’s government. The choice of not resigning is my own choice”, she added.
Lam said that in the recording she was simply trying to explain that resignation might be an easy option.
“But I told myself repeatedly in the last three months that I and my team should stay on to help Hong Kong, to help Hong Kong in a very difficult situation, and to serve the people of Hong Kong,” she said.
“I had not given myself the choice to take an easier path and that is to leave. I’d rather stay on and walk this path together with my team and with the people of Hong Kong.”
Demonstrators have five main demands for Lam, including formally withdrawing the bill, establishing a commission of inquiry to investigate police conduct and and restarting the city’s stalled political reform process.
Police said that it would not be appropriate for the force to comment on the possibility of emergency powers being invoked, but stressed it had the ability to handle the chaotic situation in the city.
Hong Kong has been shaken by mass protests triggered by the now-shelved extradition bill since June. Demonstrations have run for 13 consecutive weekends, and 1,117 protesters have been arrested so far.