World

Carrie Lam to hold dialogue sessions with public next week

HONG KONG: Leader of Hong Kong Carrie Lam said yesterday she and her team would begin dialogue sessions with the community next week, while reiterating that the violence that has roiled the city must end.

Mrs Lam, who is under pressure from Beijing to defuse public anger, said the dialogue sessions would be as open as possible, with members of the public able to sign up to attend.

"Hong Kong society has really accumulated a lot of deep-rooted economic, social and even political issues. I hope these different forms of dialogue can provide a platform for us to discuss," Mrs Lam said. "But I have to stress, dialogue platform doesn't mean we don't have to take resolute enforcement actions. Suppressing the violence is still the priority."

The former British colony has been roiled by nearly four months of protests. The trigger was an extradition Bill, now withdrawn, that would have allowed people to be sent from Hong Kong to China for trial.

The protesters' demands have broadened to include universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into their complaints of excessive force by the police.

Police on Monday said 89 people were arrested over the weekend after "radical protesters" attacked two officers on Sunday.

Credit rating agency Moody's changed its outlook on Hong Kong's rating to negative from stable on Monday, reflecting what it called the rising risk of "an erosion in the strength of Hong Kong's institutions".

The institutional features that grant Hong Kong greater political and economic autonomy accounted for its higher rating than China, the agency said.

Mrs Lam said the Moody's decision was disappointing.

"We do not concur, especially if the justification for that sort of change in outlook is premised on whether we are still upholding 'one country, two systems'," she said. - REUTERS

WORLD