Call to step down

HONG Kong leader Leung Chun-ying defied pro-democracy protesters’ demands to step down by Friday, and repeated police warnings that the consequences would be serious if they sought to surround or occupy government buildings.

Mr Leung, speaking to reporters just minutes before an ultimatum for him to resign expired, also said that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam would hold a meeting with students soon to discuss political reforms. He gave no time frame.

Some of the thousands of people massed outside Mr Leung’s office voiced disappointment, although the atmosphere was calm.

“The request is very simple. We want real democracy. When you ask for an apple you should get an apple.

“You don’t get an orange made to look like an apple,” said Howard Hu, a 35-year-old engineer.

Others suspected that Hong Kong authorities were trying to buy time and wait for demonstrations to dwindle.

“The government says it wants to talk to us but we can predict the outcome,” said Isaac Chan, a private music tutor, as he sat on the road wearing a paper face mask.

“The government already has an answer in its heart. They will not let us have real universal suffrage. We think this is a tactic being used to cool the crowd because (Friday) is a work day, not a holiday,” added the 22-year-old.

As he spoke, the crowd around him began thinning out, and only about 1000 people remained by 3 am Several thousand more were still in the streets in other parts of the city.