Chief executive calls for unity to curb violence
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor cautioned on Tuesday that the Asian financial hub is in a "severe situation" as it may fall into recession after months of violent protests.
To revive the troubled economy, she called on the whole city to join hands in quelling violence, which she described as the "fundamental" solution to solve the current crisis.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is very likely to record negative economic growth for 2019, Lam told the media before the weekly Executive Council meeting.
In mid-August, the SAR government lowered the city's expected economic growth from 2 to 3 percent to 0 to 1 percent due to a "remarkably increasing risk of recession".
Hong Kong's economy recorded negative quarter-on-quarter growth in the second quarter. If the economy continued to contract in the third quarter, it would indicate that the city's economy is technically heading into recession, Lam said. Relative data from the third quarter is expected to be announced on Thursday.
The city's Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po revealed over the weekend that, according to statistics on hand, the economy continued to contract in the third quarter, and the extent of contraction was magnified.
To boost the economy, Lam said, the government would announce fresh measures, including strengthening overseas promotion and connections with the Chinese mainland once the unrest in the city settles.
She also pledged that the government will offer continuous support to enterprises and residents affected by the economic slump.
Since August, three rounds of relief measures of more than HK$20 billion have been rolled out, covering sectors bearing the brunt of the social unrest such as retail, catering, transport and tourism.
Some of the measures required additional resources, leading the government to seek more funding from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council.
Considering the large backlog the committee was already facing, Lam called for cross-spectrum cooperation from lawmakers so that livelihood-related bills could be passed as soon as possible.
However, Lam emphasized that the above initiatives to boost the economy were just a bandage. The fundamental solution to the current unrest is still to end violence and restore order, she added.
Noting that achieving that goal requires unified support, she appealed to the public to not condone violence and give more support to the government and the police.
Also on Tuesday, the door closed on high-profile activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung's aspirations to run for district councilor in Hong Kong after an electoral officer ruled that his nomination for the 2019 District Council Ordinary Election was invalid.
Wong is the only candidate disqualified from the city's 6th district council election scheduled on Nov 24.
In a notice to Wong, the returning officer said the decision was based on Wong's public remarks and his reply to the officer's inquiry that he does not intend to safeguard the Basic Law, the SAR's constitutional document, nor pledge allegiance to the SAR.
Wong is the founder and secretary-general of the Demosisto, a local group that aims to achieve self-determination in Hong Kong.
The officer pointed out that according to public information, the group has always agreed that the SAR's independence from China is a possible option for self-determination, which contradicts the Basic Law.
In a statement issued shortly afterward, the SAR government said it supports the decision.
Changing the HKSAR system by supporting Hong Kong independence as an option for self-determination is inconsistent with the constitutional and legal status of the HKSAR as stipulated in the Basic Law, as well as the country's established basic policies regarding Hong Kong, the government said in the statement.
"The candidate cannot possibly comply with the requirements of the relevant electoral laws since advocating or promoting 'self-determination' is contrary to the declaration that the law requires a candidate to make－to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR."