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Protesters Call For Hong Kong Leader To Step Down


We're going to stay in Hong Kong a little longer to hear from one of the protesters who was out in the streets all day. Galileo Cheng is a social affairs executive for the Hong Kong Catholic Institution Staff Association, and he is with us now.

Welcome. Thanks for talking to us.

GALILEO CHENG: Yes. Thank you.

MARTIN: The government says that they've shelved this bill for now. Why is it that so many people still felt they needed to come out to protest?

CHENG: Well, whenever they say they're suspending it indefinitely, the Hong Kong people are not believing it.

MARTIN: So what is it that the protesters are asking for? They're asking for the bill to be shelved indefinitely. Is there anything else?

CHENG: Yeah. They're calling for (unintelligible) responsibility of the police firing tear gas or all kinds of firearms, not arrest and charge for those protester and to release them, and most importantly, to cancel the Hong Kong government's decision of marking the June 12 protest as a riot and step down for the Carrie Lam.

MARTIN: Tell me about the atmosphere there, if you would. You mentioned - and I think many people saw - that, you know, earlier in the week at earlier protests, there was tear gas. And many people - I think protesters believe that the police reacted kind of harshly. What's the atmosphere there today?

CHENG: This one is funny. We are - because the police are very restrained, extremely calm. They don't wear any kind of protective gear or anti-riot gear on the street. Of course, there are numbers, so they are not going to take strong action today.

MARTIN: What is it that you think is giving the protesters the encouragement to come out again now in such large numbers?

CHENG: I think the sentiment has to change. Two years ago, people were very disappointed about the Occupy Movement that after 71 days, and it came back nothing. But now, the Hong Kong person seems to be - Hong Kong people seems to be much more determined, less (unintelligible). So they have been planting the seed in the heart of the young people.

So this time, we see at the midnight of town, you've got the 300-somethings young peoples being arrested and 80% of them are just 16 to 25 years old. So that's - we haven't been expected. We thought the youngster don't care about politics anymore. But it turns out that those young guys are coming out and becoming the front line. The seed had grown, and they were out.

MARTIN: That is Galileo Cheng. He's a social affairs executive for the Hong Kong Catholic Institution Staff Association. He's been out all day, and he's giving us a report from the front lines of the protests.

Galileo Cheng, thank you so much for talking with us.

CHENG: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.