HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Wednesday announced the withdrawal of an extradition bill that triggered months of unrest and has thrown the Chinese-controlled city into its worst crisis in decades, a source with knowledge of the matter said.
The bill would have allowed extraditions from the former British colony to mainland China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party.
The protests against it began in March but gained momentum in June and have since evolved into a push for five demands, including the bill’s withdrawal.
The other demands are: the retraction of the word “riot” to describe rallies, the release of all arrested demonstrators, an independent inquiry into perceived brutality of the police and the right for people in Hong Kong to democratically choose their own leaders.
Here are comments from legislators, protesters and residents.
JOSHUA WONG, LEADER OF 2014 PRO-DEMOCRACY PROTESTS:
“Too little, too late,” he said, on his Facebook page.
“People would not believe it is a ‘sincere’ move ... Whenever there are signs of sending a palm branch, they always come with a far tighter grip on exercising civil rights.”
MICHAEL TIEN, HONG KONG LEGISLATURE MEMBER AND DEPUTY TO CHINA’S NATIONAL PARLIAMENT:
“Many forgot what the bill was about. It’s become clashes between police and the protesters.”
“If the government mentioned it (withdrawal of the bill) in June, it (the protests) would have stopped already. Setting up the independent commission is something the government should do 100%. It should be the focus. The commission should investigate both police and protesters.”
PRO-DEMOCRACY LEGISLATOR CLAUDIA MO:
“It’s not a matter whether the Democrats at the legislature or the pan-democratic camp accept ... It’s up to the young protesters. We need all five demands, the damage is done. She should have used the word ‘withdraw’ and it would have appeased society, now it is too late.”
“She thinks she can use a garden hose to put out a hill fire. That’s not going to be acceptable.”
PRO-BEIJING HONG KONG LAWMAKER CHEUNG KWOK-KWAN
“It was likely speaking to the so-called peaceful, rational, non-violent people who were unsatisfied with the government’s response before.”
LEUNG YIU TING, PRESIDENT, HONG KONG EDUCATION UNIVERSITY STUDENT UNION:
“Until the five demands are met, I don’t think the protests and the social movement will stop.
“I don’t think she chose a good timing to announce such a withdrawal, now it’s coming a bit too late.”
BORIS CHEN, 37, EMPLOYED IN FINANCIAL SERVICES:
“This won’t appease the protesters ... if this thing is settled, they will find the next thing they can be angry about. If you appease one thing, there’s another thing coming up, it’s a never-ending cycle.
“I think now that people are going back to school, they have less free time, I think that protests will slow down, but not quickly.
“A lot of people have a lot of free time these days and there are a lot of forces behind the scenes, but I don’t think they can indefinitely support the movement.”
JESSICA, 23, A UNIVERSITY STUDENT:
“All the effort we have done is worthwhile, even though it’s not the result we expected. I believe that this issue has made Hong Kong more united.”
MELANIE, AN ACCOUNTANT:
“Actually, she is not really changing anything. She just does what she wants to do. She ignored all of the Hong Kong people’s voice, she ignored our five demands.”
PEARL, A 69-YEAR-OLD RETIREE:
“I think the conditions have changed, this is not any more just about the bill, it is about something else. Some of those guys may change their minds, maybe,” she said of the protests.
“But just a minority. Some of them just want to create trouble and they will continue to do so.”
A WOMAN CALLED CHANG, A FORMER ANALYST, 45:”Not now, not at this moment, maybe two months ago, yes, but after what has been going on during the past two months, no. It doesn’t mean anything anymore.
“It won’t change much because people care more about the police, what they’re doing, I think that’s what matters the most now.”
Reporting by James Pomfret, Farah Master, Jessie Pang and Lukas Job; Editing by Clarence Fernandez
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