Hong Kong’s embattled leader abandoned a State of the Union-style speech yesterday after she was shouted down by opposition lawmakers on a day that also saw a prominent protest leader left bloodied by hammer-wielding thugs.
The speech by chief executive Carrie Lam was billed as an attempt to win hearts and minds after four months of seething pro-democracy protests.
Instead the day laid bare the intense polarisation coursing through the semi-autonomous financial hub after four months of huge and increasingly violent rallies.
Lam’s speech was swiftly dismissed by protesters who called for a new rally on Sunday.
Hours later the leader of the group organising that march was rushed to hospital after an attack by suspected government loyalists.
The city’s unelected pro-Beijing leader, who has historic low approval ratings, tried twice to begin her policy address inside the Legislative Council, three months after the building was trashed by masked protesters.
But pro-democracy lawmakers -- a minority of the pro-Beijing stacked legislature -- heckled her and called for her resignation.
Lam instead released a pre-recorded video, announcing plans to increase housing and land supply in a city that has one of the least affordable property markets in the world, as well as various subsidies.
Meanwhile, US House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday sought by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong that aims to defend civil rights in the semi-autonomous territory, prompting an angry response from China.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which will now move to the Senate before it can become law, has drawn rare bipartisan support in a polarized Congress.
The law would end the Hong Kong-US special trading status unless the State Department certifies annually that city authorities are respecting human rights and the rule of law.