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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam rejects independent inquiry into police handling of protests

Key Points
  • Hong Kong's top politician said video clips and stills depicting excessive force could be misleading.
  • Since June last year, Hong Kong has witnessed violent protests triggered by a now suspended extradition bill that would have allowed people in the city to be sent to the mainland for trial.
  • The public disorder has spread to consider other issues such as rampant property prices.
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Hong Kong leader says police handling protests in a 'restrained way'

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam rejected the suggestion that she should allow a full independent inquiry into the police's handling of ongoing protests in the city state.

Since June last year, Hong Kong has witnessed violent protests triggered by a now suspended extradition bill that would have allowed people in the city to be sent to the mainland for trial. The public disorder has spread to consider other issues such as rampant property prices.

The most recent rally on Sunday once again turned violent and, not for the first time, media images appeared to show excessive force being used by police.

Lam told CNBC's Geoff Cutmore on Tuesday that police oversight was already stringent and that the force was acting in extreme circumstances.

"I certainly do not feel that with all these established mechanisms in place we should subject our police forces — which is working day in and day out to protect Hong Kong from all these criminal offences — to subject them to another sort of investigation," said Lam.

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Hong Kong leader: 'Disproportionate commentary' on protests from the West

On whether media images beamed across the world were suggestive of police brutality, Lam argued that context was often missing.

"For somebody to look at a still photo or video clip and draw a conclusion about police behavior is not fair," said Hong Kong's top lawmaker.

"They are asked to handle situations which is very unprecedented. Seven months of sustained social unrest over 1,200 public order events, many of which ended up in violence," she added.

Lam said police had been working as long as 16 hours a day to keep Hong Kong safe, and that more than 500 officers had suffered injuries. She said no officers were "above the law" but there were well established methods in place to make sure officers were scrutinized.

The chief executive would not be drawn on who was potentially funding an apparently well-organized student protest group but sensed there was evidence of foreign influence.

"I do feel there is something at work ... So there is a bigger picture other than a domestic situation," she said, adding that foreign media coverage of the protests had also been excessive.

Lam said Tuesday that despite her unpopularity, she would not resign from office.