A question-and-answer session at the legislature descended into a shouting match after pro-democracy lawmakers accused Chief Executive Carrie Lam of lying about the government’s controversial plan to amend the city’s extradition laws.
Lam appeared at the Legislative Council on Thursday to defend the proposal, saying that she regretted the “extreme comments and unnecessary fears” that stoked tensions between the city and mainland China.
Democrats shouted “oppose the ‘send to China’ law” when Lam entered, drawing a stern warning from LegCo President Andrew Leung.
The government’s bill, if passed, would allow case-by-case transfers of fugitives to jurisdictions with no pre-existing agreements with Hong Kong – including China. Lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns about how the law may put residents at risk.
“I believe the best way to reduce anxieties is a pragmatic discussion on the protections provided by the law, not to obstruct the legislative process of a bill designed to plug a loophole and bring justice,” the chief executive told legislators.
Lam also voiced disagreement with the argument that the existing extradition law, which was enacted in 1997, deliberately excluded China because of human rights concerns. Those who doubted her should review the relevant Legislative Council documents, she added.
“It is not as some people say, the Chinese side of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group [worried that] including the mainland would affect Hong Kong’s smooth handover,” she said. “It’s all nonsense.”
Pro-democracy camp convenor Claudia Mo stood up and shouted that Lam was lying, to which Lam responded, “I wouldn’t lie.”
Leung said Mo’s comment was a serious and offensive accusation and asked her to take it back. Mo refused, saying: “The legislature is here to monitor the government, and I say Carrie Lam is lying.”
Mo was ejected from the legislative chamber, soon followed by Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam who also said Lam was lying.
Earlier, lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki was ejected after trying to walk to the front of the chamber to give Lam a prop clock – a pun on the Cantonese name of the extradition bill that was synonymous with death.
Pro-democracy lawmakers Wu Chi-wai, Ray Chan, Gary Fan and Ted Hui were also ejected minutes later, after they shouted in their seats in protest.
The next legislative meeting on the extradition law is set to take place on Saturday, with both the democrats and pro-Beijing camp claiming to be heading a legitimate meeting.
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