Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said her government will not postpone its plans to update the China extradition law, despite a legal challenge.

Joseph Lau, a Hong Kong billionaire tycoon convicted of corruption in Macau, applied on Monday to challenge the legal update in court.

The upcoming amendment would allow China to extradite people from Hong Kong on a case-by-case basis. Hong Kong has no pre-existing extradition arrangement with mainland China or Macau. The amendment, which will be tabled at the legislature on Wednesday, sparked a mass protest on Sunday.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Lam said ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday that she would not comment on matters where legal proceedings had been launched.

“As a matter of fact, the Hong Kong government is facing legal challenges on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean put on hold important work which is [in] the public interest of Hong Kong,” she said.

She said she believed the legislature would form a committee to discuss the amendment, and added that the government is willing to listen to public opinion.

“If such opinion does not violate our main principles, and can make issues better, in general we will accept them. But it does not mean we will accept all opinions – then we can’t do anything,” she said.

The League of Social Democrats protested against Lam over the extradition updates at the Chief Executive’s Office.

Jimmy Sham
Jimmy Sham. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Jimmy Sham, a member of the party’s executive committee, said Lam ignored public concerns raised in Sunday’s march, which organisers say was attended by 12,000 people.

“If the mainland asks the chief executive to extradite someone in its favour, can the chief executive say no? We don’t see this is the case,” he said.

The government’s move was spurred by the case of Poon Hiu-wing, a pregnant 20-year-old Hong Kong woman who was killed during a trip to Taiwan last February. Hong Kong authorities arrested the woman’s boyfriend Chan Tong-kai as a suspect, but were unable to charge him with murder in local courts. He is, instead, being held on theft charges and has yet to go to trial.

extradition march league of social democrats
The League of Social Democrats at the protest march against the extradition law update. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Sham said the public can see the amendment had nothing to do with the Taiwan case.

“Taiwan has said the amendment suppressed its international status,” he said. “Taiwan has no reason to use the extradition law. Carrie Lam’s use of the Chan Tong-kai case is only leveraging it, using it as an excuse to take away our rights.”

He said his party may host a rally when the legislature discusses the amendment.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.