Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that Hong Kong’s new one-off extradition proposal is intended to plug a loophole in existing law, and the public should not be too concerned.
The new plans were made in response to a murder committed in Taiwan last February involving a pregnant 20-year-old Hong Kong woman Poon Hiu-wing. Hong Kong authorities arrested the woman’s Hong Kong boyfriend Chan Tong-kai in the city, but were unable to charge the suspect with murder in local courts. He has instead been held for almost a year on money laundering charges, pending trial.
The proposed system, which would work on a case-by-case basis, would allow Hong Kong to handle extradition requests from jurisdictions where there are no pre-existing agreements. Pro-democracy lawmakers have demanded that the government explain why the new proposal not only included extradition mechanisms with Taiwan, but also with mainland China.
No public consultation was conducted for the new proposal. Last week, Secretary for Security John Lee said at the legislature that people would not be extradited to the mainland over political cases if the new proposal is passed.
Lam respond to the matter for the first time ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday: “The secretary for security has explained clearly at the legislature that this is intended to plug a loophole in existing laws. You may ask why the loophole was not plugged during the 20-odd years since Handover, until now – it was because we have this case in our hands now,” she said.
Lam said she agreed with John Lee’s remarks last week that the government could have ignored the case, but they could not bear to do so.
“The parents of the victim have not stopped writing letters to the government. There were five addressed to me. They were still writing this January. If you have read these letters from Mr and Mrs Poon, you would also feel that we must try to help them,” Lam said.
“If we act too carefully, and slowly consult society or issue consultation papers, then I am afraid we would not be able to help with this special case,” she added.
Lam said there will be adequate discussion at the legislature.
“I believe the secretary for security will continue to explain to society in response to some almost imaginative and overly anxious comments,” she said.