Hong Kong protesters, students and democrats have rejected Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet Ngor’s assertion that the now-suspended extradition bill is dead and criticized her for using political rhetoric as she failed to answer calls from the public.

The city chief claimed on Tuesday that “the bill is dead” and that the doors of communication are open, particularly with Hong Kong youngsters, but she reiterated her previous stance over five demands that the general public has made over the past month.

The Civil Human Rights Front which organised the rallies where millions of Hong Kong people too part, accused Lam of being hypocritical, as she refused to use the word “withdraw” instead of suspending the the extradition bill – the key demand of protesters.

“The extradition bill being put before the Legislative Council is a very legal, very formal procedure. However, she only said that the bill is dead. We cannot find the word ‘dead’ in any of the laws in Hong Kong or legal proceedings in the Legislative Council,” vice convenor Bonnie Leung said, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.

The Front said they will be discussing new protests to be held soon.

Twenty-four pan-democrat lawmakers have issued a joint statement, criticizing the chief executive for using political rhetoric to try to pacify the community and have condemned her for shielding police who allegedly attacked protesters, reporters and passersby.

Wu Chi-wai, Democratic Party chairman, said the core problem was whether the government is willing to respond to social demands or the social disobedience movements would never end.

Claudia Mo Man-ching, the convener of the democracy camp, said Lam has offered nothing new and it is time for her to resign.

Mo added that Lam saying “the bill is dead” was meaningless. While a person who dies cannot be resurrected “an object may always be remade, and can come in the form of a new model.”

On Tuesday, Lam responded to a demand by university student leaders for an open dialogue on the issue. Lam agreed but said the meeting should be held without preconditions.

Student leaders of nine tertiary institutions rejected her response, saying they stood by two preconditions, including amnesty for all protesters and a public meeting.

This is the second time that the students have turned down Lam’s meeting offer. Last week, she requested to meet students from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, but in a closed-door meeting.

Student leaders from universities in Hong Kong
Photo: RTHK

Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a government and public administration senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said Lam had missed a golden chance to solve the social crisis, saying the whole saga could come to an end if she put her words forward earlier on June 9, when a million Hongkongers joined the demonstration, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Lam has been playing a “wordplay game”, which has only annoyed the general public more, he said.

Choy also told student representatives that it is unnecessary to set preconditions over the meeting. Instead, they should seize the chance to ask Lam to respond to the five demands from the general public, Metro Daily reported. Choy admitted, however, that even if a meeting is held he is not optimistic about the result.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairman of the city’s largest pro-establishment camp Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the government should set up a team to reach out to young people to enhance communication.

She also said by saying “the bill is dead,” Lam precisely responded to public demands and that should ease people’s concerns.

Read: HK’s Carrie Lam says extradition bill is dead