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Hong Kong's Lam admits vote revealed 'unhappiness' with government

Hong Kong's deeply unpopular leader Carrie Lam acknowledged on Tuesday that a crushing defeat for the city's pro-Beijing establishment in weekend polls revealed public discontent over her government's handling of months of political unrest.

[HONG KONG] Hong Kong's deeply unpopular leader Carrie Lam acknowledged on Tuesday that a weekend poll result revealed public dissatisfaction with her government, but she offered no new concessions to the city's pro-democracy movement.

The district council elections on Sunday laid bare concern over "deficiencies in the government, including unhappiness with the time taken to deal with the current unstable environment and of course to end violence", Ms Lam acknowledged at a weekly press briefing.

The city's chief executive pledged that her government would "seriously reflect" on the result of the community-level elections in which her pro-Beijing establishment took a severe drubbing, and would "improve governance".

In a rout that stunned the semi-autonomous territory, candidates seeking to loosen control by China seized an overwhelming majority of the 452 elected seats in the city's 18 district councils, bodies that have historically been firmly in the grip of a Beijing-aligned establishment.

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The result, the first vote to be held since protests engulfed the city, was a humiliating rebuke to Beijing and to Ms Lam, who has dismissed calls for political reform and repeatedly suggested that a silent majority supported her administration.

The poll outcome has re-energised calls by the pro-democracy camp for direct popular elections for the city's leadership and legislature and a probe into alleged police brutality against demonstrators.

But Ms Lam sidestepped those calls, instead reiterating an earlier pledge to open a dialogue among all parties in the territory, a proposal that opponents have dismissed as too little, too late.

"What we need to do now is (open) community dialogue and invite social leaders to help us analyse the causes of the disturbances and Hong Kong's deep-seated social problems, and to come up with solutions," Ms Lam said.