HK government gathers 100 officials in meeting to build united front behind its controversial extradition bill

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

Hong Kong’s government is going all out to present a united front in pushing for its controversial extradition bill, assembling more than 100 officials on Friday in a special meeting to bring them up to speed on the justification for amending the city’s fugitive transfer law.

The “Special Heads of Departments’ Meeting”, hosted by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, involved ministers, permanent secretaries and their deputies, as well as heads and deputy heads of various government departments and policy bureaus.

A government official said the one-hour session started at about 11am at the administration’s headquarters in Admiralty.

A source said the meeting was aimed at informing officials about the details of the legislation, which would allow the transfer of fugitives from Hong Kong to jurisdictions with which the city has no extradition deal including mainland China. The proposal has met resistance from various quarters, over concerns that Hongkongers could face political prosecution on the mainland and that such an arrangement could harm the city’s competitiveness as a regional business hub.

 (South China Morning Post)

(South China Morning Post)

The session was not for instructing them to support the bill, the source added.

“As department heads, they have to know what’s going on. They also need to know what the government has been doing, and what the public concerns are,” he said.

Asked if the meeting was called abruptly to ask more officials to support the bill, the source said: “Heads-of-department meetings are held a few times a year, or once every few months.

“Every time, we choose a few hot topics, and top officials overseeing the policy areas explain them to colleagues.”

Security minister John Lee Ka-chiu and justice chief Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, whose briefs the proposal most obviously affects, were at the meeting.

Chief graft-buster Simon Peh Yun-lu and police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung were there too.

Some officials whose jobs are less related to extraditions, such as director of Housing Stanley Ying Yiu-hong and director of Broadcasting Leung Ka-wing, who heads RTHK, the public broadcaster, also attended, as well as the city’s ministers and deputy ministers for labour, development and health.

As department heads, they have to know what’s going on. They also need to know what the government has been doing, and what the public concerns are,


The source also revealed that in a recent meeting Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor reminded ministers to avoid unnecessary personal leave before the extradition bill is approved by the Legislative Council, something the government hopes to achieve by July.

A spokesman for the Chief Secretary’s Office said on Friday the government always held internal discussions on major government policies.

In a similar session after Typhoon Mangkhut hit in September, senior officials from the Hong Kong Observatory were invited to present how observatories in other countries forecast movements of typhoons.



Category: Hong Kong

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