Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the government will not drop the controversial amendment to Hong Kong’s extradition laws.
Her remarks came after a protest against the legal update was attended by 12,000 people on Sunday, according to organisers. Marchers called on the government to withdraw the upcoming amendment which would allow China to extradite people from Hong Kong on a case-by-case basis.
The amendment was published in the official gazette last week and is to be tabled at the legislature this Wednesday. Nine types of commercial crime were excluded following concerns from the business sector, but the American Chamber of Commerce has still said it continues to have “serious concerns.”
Asked if the government will drop the amendment, Lam told reporters on Monday: “We will not drop this amendment. It has been sent to the Legislative Council for discussion.”
Speaking after the Ming Pao Finance Symposium 2019, she said that – if there was clear evidence that the amendment should be changed – the government take it into consideration.
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.
Lam said that, although the suspect was in custody, he could be released at some point: “Do we not want justice, by handling the [suspected] offenders of serious crimes in Hong Kong in accordance with Taiwan’s request?” Lam said.
Lam also responded to the march on Sunday by saying that it was mostly peaceful and orderly, and the government respected freedom of expression.
Lam said the rally focused on extradition to mainland China, but the amendment can – in fact – cover extradition arrangements with other places without an existing agreement.
“It is not only for a particular jurisdiction such as the mainland,” she said.
She said human rights will be protected in future extraditions, similar to current arrangements with countries that Hong Kong has signed agreements with.
But she hit out at some people who were advocating independence for Hong Kong during the march.
“We must stress that we will not tolerate such activity which violates the constitution, the Basic Law, harms national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she said.
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