Apology from Hong Kong leader 'not enough'

Protesters in Hong Kong are demanding the resignation of the territory's leader Carrie Lam.
Protesters in Hong Kong are demanding the resignation of the territory's leader Carrie Lam.

An apology from Hong Kong's leader for her handling of a controversial extradition bill has failed to defuse citizen unrest and anger, with calls for a strike to follow massive street protests.

Nearly 2 million of the city's 7 million people turned out on Sunday, according to estimates by protest organisers. Police said 338,000 were counted on the designated protest route in the "peak period" of the march.

A week earlier as many as 1 million demonstrated to voice their concern over the bill, which would allow people to be extradited to China to face criminal proceedings there, raising fears of human rights abuses.

On Saturday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended her effort to force passage of the bill.

In a statement issued late Sunday, Lam noted the demonstrations and said the government "understands that these views have been made out of love and care for Hong Kong."

"The chief executive apologises to the people of Hong Kong for this and pledges to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public," it said.

However the marchers want Lam to scrap the extradition bill altogether and resign.

Protesters have mainly focused their anger on Lam, who had little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing, where President Xi Jinping has enforced increasingly authoritarian rule.

Pro-democracy activists are calling for a general strike on Monday. Some labour unions, teachers' associations and other groups were planning boycotts of work and classes.

Meanwhile, on the protest route, mourners lined up to lay flowers and pay respects at a makeshift memorial for a man who fell to his death Saturday after hanging a protest banner.

---

Australian Associated Press