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Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 12:00
HK dialogue will start in coming week
By China Daily
Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 12:00 By China Daily

Lam says variety of people to join talks on problems in session open to media

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor speaks to reporters ahead of an Executive Council meeting on Sept 17, 2019. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)

The much-awaited dialogue with the people of Hong Kong will have its first session next week, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the special administrative region, said on Tuesday.

Lam said that 100 to 200 people from all walks of life will be invited to next week's talks to discuss deep-rooted problems facing the city, and the meeting will be open to the media. She spoke at a normal news briefing before the weekly Executive Council meeting.

Lam added that the dialogue platform would also include other formats, including discussions with randomly selected representatives and in-depth dialogue with small groups of people from different backgrounds.

Communication is better than confrontation

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Amid the escalation of violent protests that have roiled the city for more than three months, Lam said she considers dialogue to be a key way for society to break the political impasse.

"Communication is better than confrontation," she said.

Lam also rebutted allegations that the police selectively arrested only anti-government protesters in recent scuffles while allowing pro-government vigilantes to go free. She stressed that the police force has always enforced the law in an impartial manner and made arrests in strict accordance with the law and based on the facts.

Anti-government protests continued despite the SAR government officially withdrawing the extradition bill. The past weekend saw radicals resorting to extreme acts of vandalism and assaulting people with different political views.

Moody's Investors Service downgraded the credit outlook of Hong Kong from "stable" to "negative" on Monday, citing doubts about whether Hong Kong can uphold "one country, two systems" as the city becomes more integrated with the mainland's economy.

Lam said the government regretted Moody's decision but conceded that the instability and social unrest in Hong Kong would inevitably undermine and adversely affect international perception of Hong Kong.

Hours before Lam spoke to reporters, a commuter train carrying passengers derailed near Hong Kong's Hung Hom station. Eight passengers received nonserious injuries in the incident, five of whom were treated at hospitals.

Two task forces will be set up to investigate the incident, one from the government's Electrical and Mechanical Services department and one from the MTR Corp, the city's sole railway operator.

Alfred Sit Wing-hang, director of Electrical and Mechanical Services, said the investigation into the "extremely serious" accident may take three to six months.

The initial investigation by MTR shows that three cracks were found on the track. It was not yet known whether the cracks caused the derailment, according to MTR.

The operator also said foreign experts would be invited to join its independent task force.

After inspecting the derailment scene, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan told reporters that at present, they wouldn't rule out any possibility, including foul play or tampering. But he said neither could officials speculate on any particular cause until they have a comprehensive and thorough investigation in hand.

At press time, it was not known whether the railway station would be open on Wednesday.

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