Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Saturday said the police have used “appropriate force of weapon” to respond to protesters in large-scale events and that the government will not tolerate any unlawful or violent acts, even by the police.
In an interview with public broadcaster RTHK, Hong Kong’s chief executive Lam said police officers have not deliberately adopted violence but have chosen “appropriate” measures for when rioters use violence.
“We should have faith in the rule of law of Hong Kong, which also includes obeying the law,” Lam added.
Lam also emphasized the value of freedom of speech, saying that “the government has no intention to do a unified enrollment of reporters nor to examine who would be qualified to do news coverage.”
“Freedom of speech is a core value in Hong Kong,” said Lam. “I completely agree with the idea that reporters have the right to exert their power as a fourth estate.”
After a summer of unrest, thousands of protesters are still taking to the streets every week in Hong Kong.
Demonstrations that started as opposition to a bill that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to China have now morphed into something bigger, with some now calling for Lam to step down, greater democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.
In September, Lam announced the withdrawal of an extradition bill after three months of increasingly violent protests, which have roiled the city and damaged its economy. That, however, did not stop the demonstrations.
Protesters regularly throw petrol bombs and bricks, and have begun vandalizing subway stations and China-linked businesses, as police respond with tear gas and water cannon.