Pro-Beijing lawmaker Michael Tien has called upon the Hong Kong government to delay its controversial extradition law bill.
His remarks came after mass protests this week against the proposal, as a million people marched on streets on Sunday, and protesters occupied main roads for several hours on Wednesday. The Legislative Council postponed its meetings three days in a row as a result of the unrest around its building.
In February, Hong Kong proposed legal amendments to allow it to handle case-by-case extradition requests from territories with no prior agreements – most notably China and Taiwan.
The bill would enable the chief executive and local courts to handle extradition requests without legislative oversight, though lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections. Officials claim the 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. Her boyfriend Chan Tong-kai is now serving jail time for unrelated charges, and the government said it must quickly establish a legal basis to transfer Chan to Taiwan to avoid him walking free.
But Tien said Taiwan had clearly stated that even if the bill passes, it will not ask for the extradition of Chan.
“I don’t understand why [Carrie Lam] is still so adamant about it,” he told reporters at the Legislative Council.
Tien said he was concerned about the results of the 2020 Legislative Council election if the government forcefully passes the bill.
“How do we govern if the pro-establishment camp loses our majority?” he said.
Bernard Chan, convener of the government’s advisory Executive Council, said on an RTHK show on Friday morning that the government ought reconsider how to deal with the bill.
He admitted that he had underestimated the reaction from the business sector and other sectors over the bill.
“We don’t want the whole legislature to be suspended because of one bill,” he said.
Fellow Executive Council member Ronny Tong told Apple Daily that the government should consider all options, including “not immediately passing it.”
The Civil Human Rights Front has planned further protests this Sunday and Monday, after it a led the “million-strong” march last Sunday.
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