Carrie Lam sticks to her guns on HK’s controversial extradition bill, but government will hear public concerns

08-May-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s leader has ruled out changing the government’s contentious extradition proposal, but said her top legal and security ministers will be responding to the public’s concerns on Tuesday afternoon to “facilitate discussions”.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also said she was willing to talk to opposition lawmakers and called for their cooperation, with the pro-democracy camp’s filibustering having stalled the legislative process since last month.

The proposed bill, which would allow the city to transfer fugitives to jurisdictions it lacks an extradition deal with, such as Taiwan and the mainland, was tabled at the Legislative Council last month.

Officials have stressed the urgency of passing the bill in time to extradite Chan Tong-kai, 20, who is wanted in Taiwan for his girlfriend’s murder.

 (South China Morning Post)

(South China Morning Post)

Chan was jailed last week for 29 months on related money-laundering charges but could be released as early as October, leaving him potentially free to flee Hong Kong and escape extradition.

Speaking before meeting her advisers in the Executive Council on Tuesday morning, Lam announced that security minister John Lee Ka-chiu and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah would be holding a press conference later in the day to address the views of the public and “for a more holistic discussion in society”.

“It does not mean changes will be made [to the bill],” she said.

The bill is strongly opposed by critics who distrust the legal system in mainland China and fear Hongkongers and others living in the city might be victimised for political reasons.

Last week, Beijing-friendly legal scholar Albert Chen Hung-yee made a counterproposal to the government’s bill.

Chen said the government should retain the right to refuse to extradite Hongkongers to the mainland, and instead try them locally for crimes committed across the border.

Similar proposals were also made by lawmakers from both sides of the political divide.

On Tuesday, Lam appeared to have softened her tone from last week, when she said meeting the pan-democrats would be pointless, as they would only call for her to retract the bill.

“If my personal intervention does help… I would not turn down that sort of request,” Lam said.

The chief executive, however, stressed that the discussion would be about provisions and arrangements and that the bill would still have to achieve its two goals, namely, resolving the Taiwan case and “plugging the loophole” for future incidents.

She urged opposition lawmakers to follow a guideline issued by Legco’s House Committee last week, which said pan-democrat James To Kun-sun should be replaced by pro-government lawmaker Abraham Razack as presiding member of the bills committee that scrutinises the amendments.

The move was initiated by the pro-government camp, after To and other pan-democrats prevented the committee from electing a chair in its first two meetings.

The bills committee is set to meet again on Saturday, but the pan-democrats have said To was unduly removed and that they would run a parallel meeting the same day.



Category: Hong Kong

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