Many Hong Kongers would like Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down—and Carrie Lam is apparently among them. In leaked audio from a meeting with businesspeople last week, Lam says she has caused "unforgivable havoc" and she would step down—if it was an option. "If I have a choice the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology," she says in audio obtained by Reuters, suggesting that authorities in Beijing will not allow her to resign. But the "political room" for a leader who has to serve "two masters"—"the central people’s government and the people of Hong Kong"—"is very, very, very limited," she says. Since June, mass protests over an extradition bill introduced by Lam's government have turned into widespread unrest and calls for full democracy.
In the leaked audio, Lam says Beijing has not imposed a deadline for ending the protests and she does not believe troops will be sent in to deal with the unrest, the Guardian reports. "They are willing to play long, so you have no short-term solution," she says. "Hong Kong suffers, you lose tourism, economy, you lose your IPOs and so, but you can't do much about it." After the audio surfaced, Lam claimed that she had merely been explaining that resignation would be the easier choice, but she had decided to stay on "to help Hong Kong in a very difficult situation," the South China Morning Post reports. "I have not even contemplated discussing resignation with the central people’s government," she said Tuesday. "The choice of not resigning is my own choice." (Read more Hong Kong stories.)