HK residents being misled by extradition bill detractors, says former security chief Regina Ip, warning of possible US sanctions if contentious law is passed

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

An adviser to Hong Kong’s leader has said some residents are being misled by detractors of a controversial extradition bill and urged the government to explain it more clearly.

Former security minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who sits on both the city’s executive and legislative councils, also raised fears the US would impose sanctions on Hong Kong for passing the bill that would allow the transfer of suspects to jurisdictions with which the city does not have an extradition deal including mainland China.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po agreed there were misconceptions about the bill, writing on his weekly blog that it would make Hong Kong safer.

“Society and the business sector have many doubts about the extradition bill. Some are caused by misunderstanding or a lack of understanding about it,” Chan wrote, adding the administration had been doing more to clarify details of the legislation.

Opposition to the bill has triggered unprecedented clashes in the Legislative Council and posed the worst political crisis for Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s administration through domestic and international concerns among those who fear the possibility of politically motivated prosecutions under mainland China’s legal system.

Appearing on a TVB programme on Sunday, Ip said local officials should have done more to win public support.

“The government should step up on public explanation as some residents are just being misled [into opposing the bill],” she said.

“The government should also learn a lesson, as they have underestimated the opposition to the bill.”

Ip added the bill should be passed by Legco “as soon as possible”, because residents would then know their concerns about political prosecutions were unwarranted, comparing the situation to a similar furore over a co-location bill that allowed mainland Chinese officers to enact mainland laws in a section of Hong Kong’s high-speed rail terminus.

Asked whether the government’s bid to push the bill through would make Hong Kong more politically divided, Ip said: “It is normal to have different views, even the West does not have an agreed voice on issues, such as Brexit.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday expressed concern about the legislation after meeting a Hong Kong delegation, led by Martin Lee Chu-ming, saying the bill had threatened the city’s rule of law.

Ip said that instead of worrying about different opinions in society, the government should pay attention to Washington’s possible response if the bill were passed.

“The only consequence we should bear in mind is that some pan-democrats have been lobbying and complaining in the US… I would not rule out the possibility of the US imposing sanctions on Hong Kong,” she said.

But she said the US had more to lose than Hong Kong, in the event Washington cancelled the existing extradition treaty signed with the city in 1997, and entered into force in 2000.

“We have extradited 68 people to them so far, but they extradited very few to us. The US values this mutual legal assistance in criminal matters very much,” she said.

A report issued by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission had earlier said the extradition bill, if passed, might provide grounds for the US to “re-examine important elements of its current relationship with Hong Kong”.

Under the US-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, the city is treated separately from mainland China on trade and economic policy issues.


Category: Hong Kong

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