Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kong‘s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam took part in a community dialogue session with members of the public on Thursday, the first such meeting since anti-government protests began 16 weeks ago.
Lam, who has come in for intense criticism and anger for her handling of the widespread public and political unrest in the city, faced some of that emotion Thursday night as a small sample of citizens asked her questions and voiced their frustrations. “I understand that a lot of people have lost confidence in me,” Lam said in her opening remarks. “No matter where you stand politically, I understand people are anxious, worried and maybe even angry.”Outside the stadium where the event was being held, a few hundred protesters gathered and shouted slogans, calling on Lam to meet their five demands. Many saw the community dialogue as a government Public Relations stunt — 20,000 people had applied to attend and only 150 were pre-selected in a lottery. Read More”This is not a political or a PR show but to seek change. We hope this change will shape a better Hong Kong. While this change might be difficult, I believe we should start now,” Lam said. “The dialogue is aimed so we can change, the aim to change is so Hong Kong, the city we love can become better.”Carrie Lam is a lame duck doomed to always be the leader who plunged Hong Kong into chaosOf the 130 people that showed up, 70 were selected to ask questions — and many of those vented their anger at Lam, asking her why she hadn’t implemented an independent commission into alleged police brutality, calling on her to release the detained protesters and questioned police response into attacks in Yuen Long and other areas. Some called for her to step down, accusing her of being a puppet for the Chinese central government. “Hong Kong is like (it has been) diagnosed with cancer because of the chief executive,” said one woman dressed in a black cardigan. “You say you want to listen to people’s opinion, but many 1 million people come out to rally, the Lennon walls, strikes, civil disobedience movements. Those are the public opinions.”Others spoke about the need for more public housing, as the unrest has expanded to include a range of demands tapping into longstanding frustrations over stalled political reform and economic injustice in Hong Kong. The city is the most expensive in the world and apartments can cost 21 times the average yearly wage.Lam later acknowledged the five protesters demands. “I believe citizens would agree that the public’s demands are actually beyond the ‘five demands,'” said the chief executive, referencing the five principle demands of the movement, which include an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, the release of all detained protesters, and greater democratic freedoms including universal suffrage. Photos: Hong Kong unrestPassengers look out from a bus at a burning barricade lit by pro-democracy protesters during a gathering in front of Mong Kok police station on Sunday, September 22, in Hong Kong, China. Pro-democracy protesters have continued demonstrations across Hong Kong, calling for the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam to immediately meet the rest of their demands, including an independent inquiry into police brutality, the retraction of the word riot to describe the rallies, and genuine universal suffrage, as the territory faces a leadership crisis.Hide Caption 1 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPro-democracy protesters sing songs and chant slogans during a rally inside a shopping mall in Shatin on September 22.Hide Caption 2 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestAn umbrella is abandoned near barricades during a protest in Hong Kong on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Demonstrators have marched through an outlying district of Hong Kong in another weekend of protest aimed at the Chinese territory’s government.Hide Caption 3 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestAn anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during a demonstration near Central Government Complex in Hong Kong on Sunday, September 15.Hide Caption 4 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA pro-China supporter, center, is escorted by police after confronting journalists in Hong Kong, on September 15.Hide Caption 5 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPro-government and anti-government supporters chant against one another at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Friday, September 13. The sign translates to “Stop violence and curb chaos; safeguard Hong Kong.”Hide Caption 6 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestDemonstrators hold up their cell phone lights as they form a human chain at the Peak, a tourist spot in Hong Kong, on September 13.Hide Caption 7 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice escort an injured man after he attacked protesters outside Prince Edward station in Hong Kong on Friday, September 6.Hide Caption 8 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters burn paper money to pay their respects to injured protesters.Hide Caption 9 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters prepare to clash with police outside the Mong Kok police station on September 6.Hide Caption 10 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester is detained by police at the Po Lam Mass Transit Railway station on Thursday, September 5.Hide Caption 11 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA man watches televisions at a store in Hong Kong as Chief Executive Carrie Lam announces the withdrawal of the extradition bill on Wednesday, September 4.Hide Caption 12 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA woman gets emotional on September 4 while paying her respects to protesters who were injured a few days earlier.Hide Caption 13 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice aim at protesters outside the Mong Kok police station on September 4.Hide Caption 14 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestDemonstrators travel through a railway station during a rally on Tuesday, September 3.Hide Caption 15 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestStudents wearing gas masks and helmets hold a banner that reads “five major demands are indispensable” at St. Francis’ Canossian College in Hong Kong.Hide Caption 16 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters gather in the bus terminal at Hong Kong International Airport on Sunday, September 1. Hundreds of pro-democracy activists attempted to block transport routes to the city’s airport.Hide Caption 17 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA passenger walks to the airport on September 1 as pro-democracy protesters blocked a road outside the airport.Hide Caption 18 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester uses a slingshot outside the Central Government Complex during clashes with police on Saturday, August 31. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters held an anti-government rally one day after several leading activists and lawmakers were arrested in a sweeping crackdown.Hide Caption 19 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters stand in front of a burning barricade as clashes with the police intensified on August 31.Hide Caption 20 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters light a Molotov cocktail on August 31.Hide Caption 21 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice officers move forward during clashes with protesters on August 31.Hide Caption 22 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters take cover as policemen fire blue-colored water on them. Blue dye can be used to stain and identify masked protesters.Hide Caption 23 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA surveillance camera is covered with white paint during protests.Hide Caption 24 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestAn overhead view shows protesters reacting after police fired tear gas on August 31.Hide Caption 25 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPro-democracy activists Agnes Chow and Joshua Wong speak to the media after they were released on bail at the Eastern Magistrates Courts on Friday, August 30. They were arrested earlier the same day in a dragnet across Hong Kong.Hide Caption 26 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters clash with police after a rally in Hong Kong’s Tsuen Wan district on Sunday, August 25. It was one of the most violent nights seen in Hong Kong since mass protests began in June.Hide Caption 27 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA police officer aims a gun in front of a protester on August 25.Hide Caption 28 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestSome protesters shine laser pointers at police lines on August 25.Hide Caption 29 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters and police clash on Saturday, August 24.Hide Caption 30 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters pick up bricks to be used as projectiles on August 24.Hide Caption 31 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice retreat after clashing with protesters on August 24.Hide Caption 32 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPeople link hands as they gather at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront on Friday, August 23. Protesters formed a human chain across Hong Kong in a show of solidarity.Hide Caption 33 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestCell phones shine from the top of Lion Rock on August 23.Hide Caption 34 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters march under umbrellas on Sunday, August 18.Hide Caption 35 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestTens of thousands of protesters showed up in the streets on August 18.Hide Caption 36 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester participates in a march on Saturday, August 17. His eye is covered with red gauze, referencing a woman who was allegedly shot in the eye with a beanbag round during clashes between protesters and police.Hide Caption 37 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester ties a white ribbon, symbolizing the pure intentions of young protesters, during a march organized by teachers in Hong Kong on August 17.Hide Caption 38 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters react after police fired tear gas to disperse a demonstration at the Sham Shui Po police station in Hong Kong on Wednesday, August 14.Hide Caption 39 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters point lasers at the Sham Shui Po police station on August 14.Hide Caption 40 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA police officer falls over an airport luggage trolley during a scuffle with pro-democracy protesters on Tuesday, August 13. For two days, protesters flooded the airport. Check-ins were suspended and dozens of outgoing flights were canceled.Hide Caption 41 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice use pepper spray to disperse protesters at the airport on August 13.Hide Caption 42 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice and protesters clash at the airport on August 13. The violence came after Hong Kong’s Airport Authority announced that all check-in services would be suspended for another night because of terminal operations being “seriously disrupted.”Hide Caption 43 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA traveler passes her luggage to security guards as she tries to enter the departures gate.Hide Caption 44 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA display board shows canceled flights on August 13.Hide Caption 45 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestAnti-government protesters stand at a barricade made of luggage trolleys during a demonstration at the airport on August 13.Hide Caption 46 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestMedics look after a woman who received a facial injury during clashes on Sunday, August 11.Hide Caption 47 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA pro-democracy protester is held by police outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station on August 11.Hide Caption 48 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice fire tear gas at protesters during a demonstration in the Wong Tai Sin District on Monday, August 5.Hide Caption 49 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA train passenger gestures toward a protester, right, who was preventing the doors of a train from closing on August 5. The protester was trying to disrupt Hong Kong’s morning rush-hour commute.Hide Caption 50 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA man lies down on an underground train during a protest on August 5.Hide Caption 51 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA man comforts his pregnant wife near a train platform after protesters blocked the train doors on August 5.Hide Caption 52 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester stands in tear gas during a confrontation with police in the early hours of Sunday, August 4.Hide Caption 53 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA Chinese flag floats in water after it was thrown by protesters during a demonstration on Saturday, August 3.Hide Caption 54 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester sprays paint on a wall on August 3.Hide Caption 55 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestMembers of Hong Kong’s medical sector attend a protest in Edinburgh Place on Friday, August 2.Hide Caption 56 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestThe emblem on the China Liaison Office is protected by plexiglass during a demonstration on Sunday, July 28.Hide Caption 57 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester flees from baton-wielding police in the Yuen Long district of Hong Kong on Saturday, July 27.Hide Caption 58 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester looks through umbrellas during the clashes with police on July 27.Hide Caption 59 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestTravelers watch as protesters rally at Hong Kong’s international airport on Friday, July 26.Hide Caption 60 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters clash with police on Sunday, July 21.Hide Caption 61 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestMasked men in white T-shirts are seen after attacking anti-extradition bill demonstrators at a train station in Yuen Long.Hide Caption 62 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestMedical workers help a protester affected by tear gas on July 21.Hide Caption 63 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestThe office of pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho was trashed by protesters in Hong Kong’s Tsuen Wan district.Hide Caption 64 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice officers use pepper spray to disperse protesters after a rally in the Sheung Shui district on Saturday, July 13. Hide Caption 65 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA demonstrator sprays paint inside a chamber at Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building, where protesters forced their way in on Monday, July 1.Hide Caption 66 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestThe meeting hall of the Legislative Council is taken over by demonstrators on July 1.Hide Caption 67 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester smashes a window of the Legislative Council building.Hide Caption 68 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestColumns of sunlight are cast on a crowd during the march on July 1.Hide Caption 69 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestHelicopters carrying the flags of China and Hong Kong fly over demonstrators on July 1.Hide Caption 70 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPro-democracy lawmaker Roy Kwong rallies demonstrators with a megaphone on July 1.Hide Caption 71 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA police officer uses pepper spray during a clash with protesters on July 1.Hide Caption 72 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA protester wearing a T-shirt with the word “revolution” walks past an inscription on a road that reads “Long Live HK.”Hide Caption 73 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice detain protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1.Hide Caption 74 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestAn overhead view shows thousands of protesters marching through a Hong Kong street on Sunday, June 16.Hide Caption 75 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters run after police fired tear gas on Wednesday, June 12.Hide Caption 76 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters face off with police during the rally on June 12.Hide Caption 77 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestBy the morning of June 12, tens of thousands of mainly young people had arrived in the area, blocking streets and bringing central Hong Kong to a standstill.Hide Caption 78 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestA demonstrator holds a sign during the June 12 rally.Hide Caption 79 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestPolice officers charge toward protesters during clashes on Monday, June 10. It was a continuation of protests that started the day before.Hide Caption 80 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters hold pictures of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Sunday, June 9.Hide Caption 81 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestProtesters on June 9 waved placards and wore white — the designated color of the rally. “Hong Kong, never give up!” some chanted.Hide Caption 82 of 83 Photos: Hong Kong unrestStudents wear chains during a demonstration on Saturday, June 8.Hide Caption 83 of 83 The protests, initially over a now-withdrawn extradition bill to mainland China, have grown more violent as the weeks have pushed on. Protesters have targeted subway stations and shopping malls, throwing petrol bombs and setting fires. Police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons. There have also been several attacks on apparent bystanders during demonstrations and mob street brawls. The protests have also hit Hong Kong’s economy hard, especially the tourism, retail and hotel industries. Paul Chan, Hong Kong’s financial secretary, said tourist arrivals plummeted in August by 40%.The dialogue comes as Hong Kong gears up for its 17th weekend of protests, with marches expected on Saturday — the 5th anniversary of the start of the 2014 Umbrella Movement. Police and protesters are also facing a major test next week when China marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1.