From Iron Girl to lame duck: Hong Kong chief’s departure seen as mere matter of time

From Iron Lady to lame duck: Hong Kong leader's departure seen as mere matter of time


HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam’s apologies and explanations for a doomed extradition invoice have did not quell political stress and her departure is now seen by many within the Chinese language-ruled metropolis as merely a matter of time in a drawn-out, lengthy goodbye.

FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Chief Govt Carrie Lam walks to chatting with media over an extradition invoice in Hong Kong, China July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Picture

On Tuesday, Lam described the invoice, which might have allowed folks in Hong Kong, with its cherished rule of legislation, to be despatched to mainland China for trial and pave the way in which for property to be confiscated, as “lifeless”.

However activists and protest teams mentioned they might not belief her phrases and are rising calls for for her to formally withdraw the invoice and step down.

And they’re vowing additional motion, after weeks of big and at occasions violent road protests which have plunged town into its worst disaster since Britain handed it again to Chinese language rule in 1997.

On Saturday, some teams will unfold their message to mainland merchants in a New Territories village close to town’s border with China – a step seen as an additional provocation of Communist Social gathering leaders in Beijing.

And whereas Lam, a self-styled “Iron Girl”, has vowed to remain on, her newest statements have solely fueled hypothesis that she has already provided to stop.

When requested about whether or not she would honor calls for that she resign simply two years into her first five-year time period, Lam mentioned that it was “not a easy factor for a CE (chief govt) to step down”.

“I personally nonetheless have the fervour and enterprise to service Hong Kong folks,” Lam mentioned.

For some analysts, Lam’s assertion was an indication that she could have already tendered her resignation. However Beijing will solely let her go when the time is correct.

“It’s extra complicated than peculiar folks assume… You possibly can’t simply stop while you like and stroll away in terms of coping with Beijing,” mentioned political scientist and commentator Sonny Lo.

Beijing leaders, he mentioned, needed to weigh home and regional dangers and discover a alternative – no straightforward job for a job broadly seen as a poisoned chalice, weighing Hong Kong’s cherished freedoms and the Communist Social gathering’s authoritarian instincts.

Underneath the handover cope with Britain, Hong Kong was allowed to retain in depth freedoms not loved on the mainland underneath a “one nation, two methods” components, together with its impartial judiciary and proper to protest.

Beijing would possibly need Lam to at the very least restore a few of the harm brought on by the extradition invoice fiasco earlier than leaving to assist any successor, however would nearly definitely need her gone earlier than Legislative Council elections in September subsequent 12 months, Lo mentioned.

Already Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing camp is displaying indicators of splits amid the fallout of Lam’s championing of the extradition invoice, which sparked a broad vary of criticism from inside institution circles.

Within the shorter time period, some diplomats and analysts imagine Beijing is not going to need to additional dent the picture of “one nation, two methods” forward of presidential elections in neighboring self-ruled Taiwan in January.

Beijing leaders have began once more touting “one nation, two methods” as a mannequin for Taiwan, which they contemplate a wayward province. Taiwan has rejected the provide.

Ming Sing, an affiliate professor on the Hong Kong College of Science and Know-how, mentioned he believed that Beijing was not letting Lam step down.

“If she resigns proper now, if she is compelled by Beijing to resign, that might ship a really sturdy sign to Hong Kong and the worldwide group that Beijing, the biggest one-party state, the biggest authoritarian state on the earth, would again down within the face of standard stress,” he mentioned.

Even so, some analysts and diplomats observe Lam has already harmed the broader nationwide safety agenda of Chinese language President Xi Jinping, making it tougher to introduce any new security-related legal guidelines in Hong Kong and refreshing requires democratic reforms.

Hong Kong lawmaker Fernando Cheung instructed Reuters that Lam was now a lame duck who will be unable to finish her time period.

“How the federal government and the chief govt dealt with the outcry from the general public additionally made lots of people conscious that with out true democracy, there isn’t any hope for accountable governance,” the Labour Social gathering legislator mentioned.”So as soon as the attention is there, there isn’t any return.”

With protest placards declaring that “Bloody Carrie” Lam had “bought Hong Kong” and together with her recognition scores decrease than every other post-handover chief, current weeks have marked a swift reversal of fortune for a frontrunner who took workplace vowing to unite town.

Slideshow (three Photos)

For a lot of, her destiny now echoes that of Hong Kong’s first post-handover chief, Tung Chee-hwa. Tung provided to step down instantly after half one million folks took to the streets in 2003 to protest in opposition to proposed nationwide safety legal guidelines, which have been additionally finally shelved.

It will not be till almost two years later – mid-way by means of his second time period – that he was capable of lastly depart.

“To go away is simple,” he mentioned on the time. “To remain is way tougher.”

Reporting By Greg Torode and John Ruwitch; Further reporting by Anne Marie Roantree, Farah Grasp and Clare Jim; Modifying by Nick Macfie


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