Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor met with lawmakers and formally withdrew the extradition bill at 4pm this afternoon. We talked to students about what they think about her announcement.
I personally think it is a step in the right direction, but nothing has changed. I don't believe protesters are going to stop because the bill has been withdrawn.
I think that the protests are now about expressing disapproval of China and the lack of freedom. The people of Hong Kong are really determined, and this only proves that protesting does make an impact.
Zachary Perez Jones, 14, South Island School
More than anything, I just hope the protests calm down. It's so sad to have weekends stuck at home where you literally can't celebrate the most important part of your week! My friends and I thought about Macau for my birthday but began reconsidering after seeing public transportation affected by the protests. I hope withdrawing the bill could calm things down.
Joy Pamnani, 20, University of Hong Kong
I think withdrawing bill definitely helps to calm down the anger within, but the people are asking for “five demands, not one less”, and now that Carrie Lam is withdrawing the extradition bill, there are still four demands to go. People will still be fighting and will go onto the streets to fight for the rest. If Carrie Lam thinks withdrawing the bill means listening to the people, then she is totally wrong. She should really open up and talk to the people instead of withdrawing it.
The conflicts are no longer focused on the bill but on the 'five demands' related to universal suffrage and independent inquiry. Carrie Lam has made such a big mess, and the aftermath brought by her arrogance and unwillingness to hear the general public far outweighs what she can do to seal the cracks, including withdrawing the bill.
Some may think that the protestors should be satisfied and calmly open up the conversation between the people and the government, but in my opinion, her other sins, such as indulging the police force, will never be forgiven.
Nester Chik, 17, Sing Yin Secondary School
I felt happy when she said she is going to withdraw the extradition bill. These last few months, there has been too much violence and too many people getting hurt and they did that because they are not satisfied with what the government is doing now.
I just hope that there will be no more violence and I hope Hong Kong will be a peaceful city again!!
Teresa Kwok, 14, South Island School
If Carrie Lam really withdraws the extradition bill, I will feel surprised. I think it would mean the government actually hopes to have a conversation with the public, which is good. And I hope Hong Kong can return to peace, stability, and prosperity soon.
Yannis Mok Tin-yan, 14, Po Leung Kuk Tang Yuk Tien College
"Withdrawing the extradition bill is just responding one of the five demands the protesters have been calling for," said a senior form student surnamed Wong from Belilios Public School.
Wong added that Chief Executive Carrie Lam must also set up an independent commission enquiry and look into police's alleged abuse of power and violence.
"Even though the decision might stop a part of protesters from continuing the movement, the majority would still continue until the five demands are met," she believed.
Wong and her peer, also surnamed Wong, said they would not give up the fight and would "do whatever we can as secondary students", such as signing online petitions and attending authorised rallies in the future.
“My family supports the Pro-Beijing camp, so I’ve not been allowed to take part in any protests over the weekends. I did, however, join the sit-in at my school on Monday,” says Emily.
Even though the 16-year-old believes withdrawing the bill is the “right move”, she remains skeptical about Carrie Lam and what’s to come in the future. “Even if the extradition bill has been withdrawn, there is no guarantee that similar bills won’t be drafted after this.”
Joshua, 14, says Carrie Lam is supposed to speak for the people of Hong Kong, not the central government. He adds that police should also refrain from using excessive force.
“The protests are getting ever more violent, and it’s ruining everyone’s lives. I blame the police, not the protesters, for the escalating violence - they are merely fighting for the city’s democracy.
“Withdrawing the bill is a really good thing as it will prevent an economic collapse in Hong Kong - our economy has been going downhill ever since the protests started [in June],” says Joshua, 17.
Despite the bill being withdrawn, he says he’ll continue to protest over the weekends, to show their defiance and that this movement will not be “beaten to death”.
Siri, 15, a secondary school student, says she “[doesn’t] buy it”, and that withdrawing the bill is too little too late. Even though Lam has made progress, she says, the embattled leader still hasn’t acceded to the rest of the protesters’ demands, including an independent inquiry into police misconduct.
“The police is reason why we are all in a state of panic,” she says. Despite the bill being withdrawn, she’ll continue to boycott classes next week.
“School is one of the few places where we still have the freedom to express our opinions,” she explains.
“I don’t think the protests will stop. Hong Kong people will hold the government accountable for everything that they did,” said Monica Lee (left), a 13-year-old student at Hotung Secondary School. Lee was referring to the alleged excessive use of force by the police, and the delayed actions in the mob attack in Yuen Long on July 21.
She added that the only way to quench people’s anger is through responding to the four other demands as well. Another student Chloe Ho, 13, also from Hotung Secondary School, said Hongkongers would remain angry at the government. She said Carrie Lam was to blame for the city’s chaos. “Because of her being unresponsive, a lot of innocent people were hurt, and Hong Kong was torn apart.”
"Even if Lam is really withdrawing the extradition bill, I don't think she will be forgiven by the majority of Hong Kong people ... because she has been winking at the police's inappropriate use of force" said Jeff Yip, 18. "It's hard for Hongkongers to trust her now."
The Form Six student from St Stephen's College added that Lam's announcement would have come too late, and her refusal to step down despite public opinion was highly problematic.
Planning to study abroad next year and not return to Hong Kong in the near future, Lam claimed he's "politically neutral", and did not find the local news entirely relevant to himself. His decision to leave the city is, however, not related to the ongoing anti-extradition bill protests.
Gabriel, 16, an international school student, says his peers, mostly expats, are reluctant to talk about or participate in the protests, in fear of it having a negative impact on their families. “No one in our school brought it up or boycotted classes,” he says, “while most sympathise with [the protesters], as expats, there’s a chance we might get deported if arrested.”
When asked about one of protesters’ five demands, one of which the call for Carrie Lam to step down, he believes that even if she is resigns, her successor will just be “just the same”.
However, his schoolmate, who does not wish to be named, disagrees. “Withdrawing the bill is a step towards the right direction, at least it’s better than doing nothing,” he says, “However, she’s still widely unpopular, so replacing her might help restore public confidence.”
I am happy to hear that the will be withdrawn, but I worry that the action is too little too late. I hope that the government will listen more to the public's voice, otherwise people won't back down.
Divina Samtani, 16, Kellett The British International School
The extradition bill has caused a lot of division in Hong Kong. Although some may regard the matter as not over, having a starting point of discussion is good progress and I believe it also satisfies the main demand of many people.
Kai U Cheang, 17, Macau Anglican College
Withdrawing the bill at this point shows no honor or willingness to listen to the public at all, but is rather a futile attmept at quelling recent protests. If she really meant it, she would have withdrawn it from day one instead of suspending it or announcing it was "dead".
Charlotte Fong, 17, International Christian School
I think it might be a great step to build trust with citizens. At least she has met one crucial demand of the protesters, and may help to soothe the prolonged protest crisis. Their efforts were not in vain. But still, the polices' abuse of power and label of 'riots' has yet to be solved. Carrie shouldn't disregard those critical issues. Only if the five demands can be fulfilled or treated in other ways with compromise. Only then can the government gain back our trust step by step.
Jenny Chan Yu-yan, 17, Belilios Public School
I definitely feel like it's a step forward but it may also a bit late considering all the political unrest that Hong Kong has experienced over the past months.
Miriam Lo, 16, Renaissance College Hong Kong
It is a remarkable and courageous step that Carrie Lam has decided to take, which certainly answers a key demand of a lot of Hongkongers. However, it also symbolises a surrender to violence and terrorism, which certainly disappoints a lot of people in Hong Kong.
In the past 2 months, many in the police force and many civilians have been physically assaulted and injured by rioters with appallingly dangerous weapons, such as gasoline bombs, smoke grenades and airsoft guns. Many were also let doxxed and threatened on online platforms. Victims can't help but feel that their safety has become increasingly compromised, now that Carrie Lam has symbolically bowed down to escalating violence. She is in a highly exasperating position; there isn’t a definite right or wrong to this withdrawal.
Cyril Ip, 20, University of Bristol