Protests and a human chain of students are expected to greet Hong Kong’s leader when she attends a meeting with 150 randomly selected people for her first town hall gathering on Thursday night.
The first “community dialogue” that chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor proposed is aimed at easing the unrest in the city caused by her proposal to amend the Fugitive Ordinance in June.
But only 150 people were chosen by a computer lot draw out of 20,000 people who applied to take part, while a selection of speakers will be made by another drawing of lots during the session. The people picked will each have three minutes to express themselves and speak directly in front of Lam and other senior officials.
The event starts at 7pm at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai.
Other Hong Kong people who wanted their voices to be heard have chosen other ways to express their views.
Students and alumni from six secondary schools, including Lam’s alma mater St Francis’ Canossian College in Wan Chai, are planning to form a human chain starting at 4:30pm in front of the stadium.
“We urge the government to respond to the citizens’ demands, to recognize the problem of police attacking citizens and apologize for it,” they wrote in a statement.
Some went online and called for people to show up outside the stadium, while members of a political party, the League of Social Democrats, will hold a demonstration to call for Lam to step down.
Members from the social services sector will form another human chain outside Wu Chung House on Queen’s Road East at 7:30pm.
To ensure safety, some schools in the Wan Chai district will let their students leave early in the afternoon and cancel all after-school activities.
By noon on Thursday, security at the stadium had not been heightened. No water-filled barriers were seen.
Some shops near the stadium planned to shutter business earlier as worries over chaos and clashes may happen if police arrive and fire tear gas to disperse the crowd outside the stadium.
On LINKG, the local Reddit-like forum, most of the comments said they would not expect Lam to answer anything in the session, adding there would be nothing to talk about if the government doesn’t respond to the five demands.
Besides Lam, four bureau chiefs will also attend the event – Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah, Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah and Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee.
In 2004, Lau took part in crisis talks with student leaders during the Umbrella Movement, although he remained silent throughout the two-hour session. Yau was also at the 2014 meeting with Lam, who was the chief secretary at the time.
Meanwhile, the Civil Human Rights Front, which had organized a couple of large-scale marches, was planning to organize two demonstrations before October 1, the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the PRC.
On Saturday, they want to hold a two-hour rally at Tamar Park in Admiralty from 7pm to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the Occupy movement in 2014.
Front convenor Jimmy Sham said the current protests are part of Hong Kong’s continuing fight for democracy and the Occupy campaign of 2014 was an earlier installment of this “serial drama.”
The group also plans to have a march from Causeway Bay to Central on October 1 as a “day of mourning” for the county.
The group said if the police refused to give permission for the two protests, they would be forced to cancel them. Over the past few weeks, people still went ahead with marches when they did not gain approval and the end result was violent clashes and chaos.
Meanwhile, a group of anti-government protesters said at “Citizen Press Conference” on Wednesday that 42 cities across 19 counties, including the US, Europe, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Malaysia and Japan, would hold “Global Anti-Totalitarianism” marches this weekend in support of the people of Hong Kong.