In a new leaked audio recording obtained by the Reuters news agency, Chief Executive Carrie Lam can be heard telling members of the business community that she has “nothing” apart from the city’s 30,000-strong police force, and officers need to be given more powers.

Last week, Reuters released an audio recording where the embattled Hong Kong leader told business leaders that it was “unforgivable” for her to have caused such huge havoc to Hong Kong, and that she would quit if she had a choice.

In the latest recording published by the news agency on Thursday night, Lam is heard speaking at the same event, defending accusations that the government had not taken a firm-enough stance against anti-extradition bill demonstrators.

She said taking too strong a position could be counter-productive because apart from the city’s 30,000 police officers, the government has absolutely nothing.

“Really. We have nothing. I have nothing … So that means that whatever we do we have to take into full account the police assessment and reactions, so to give them some powers which they could not enforce because they’re outnumbered … which makes enforcement extremely difficult in terms of crowd management and crowd dispersal”, she said.

The SAR leader also cited the 2011 London riots as an example, saying the British government had to establish special 24-hour courts to deal with the thousands of people who had been arrested.

“From start to finish is 5-6 weeks, through special courts, night courts, 24 hours. What would you imagine to be the Chief Justice’s reaction if I were to tell him, ‘Could you have special courts, night courts, in order to clear all these cases?’”, she asked.

Lam also highlighted the need to beef up the government’s public relations efforts, calling it her administration’s “weakest link”.

But she conceded that it was difficult to get help from experts.

“So we invited eight global PR companies, but unfortunately four immediately declined because that would be a detriment to their reputation to support the Hong Kong SAR government now, and two subsequently also turned away a request for meetings”, she said.

The Chief Executive added that a lot of promotional materials have to be done in-house because the majority of the production houses across the city have refused to work with the government in fear of retaliation from protesters.