China will treat ailing dissident Liu Xiaobo ‘with compassion’, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam claims
New chief executive says it’s not her role to push central government on matter
Hong Kong’s new leader has expressed confidence that Beijing will be “compassionate” towards Liu Xiaobo, the critically ill Nobel laureate in mainland custody.
But Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said it was not her role to exert “pressure” on the central government over the matter.
Two weeks ago, the dissident – jailed in 2009 over calls for greater democracy in China – was transferred to a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province, for treatment.
While mainland authorities said Liu’s situation was worsening, overseas experts allowed to visit him last week said he was still fit for travel.
Hongkongers have held rounds of protests to call for Liu’s release, and the city’s pan-democrats have urged Lam to convey to Beijing their wish that Liu be granted full freedom in order to be treated for his terminal liver cancer overseas.
On Tuesday, Lam was asked by reporters whether she would pressure the central government to urge it to at least let him take treatment overseas.
Lam replied: “As far as Mr Liu Xiaobo is concerned, I don’t want to use the words ‘to put pressure’ on the central government.”
“I have said time and again that as the chief executive it is also my obligation to promote the positive development of [Hong Kong] and the central authorities, and that arrangement must be premised on trust,” she continued.
“This is something within the central government’s purview and jurisdiction, and I believe [it] will deal with this situation in a legal and compassionate way.”
Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu cast doubt on Lam’s remarks.
“As the world can see, the facts are evidently suggesting that the handling of Mr Liu is short of compassionate,” he said. “I can only wish what Lam said were true.”
Meanwhile, the Legislative Council voted down Democrat Ted Hui Chi-fung’s proposal to hold an adjournment debate on Liu’s case at the council on Wednesdayas most pro-establishment lawmakers opposed the idea. The vote was 38-26. But Hui planned to submit a petition at Wednesday’s meeting to raise the case again.
In 2009, Liu was jailed for 11 years after he led the drafting of “Charter 08”, a document that called for democracy and freedoms in China. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.