Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said she will not meet the pro-democracy camp over the controversial update to the city’s extradition law, saying there was “no purpose” for a closed-door meeting that was intended to pressure the government.
Democrats have been asking for a meeting with the chief executive after a protest on Sunday saw a large turnout. However, Lam dismissed the request when speaking to reporters on Tuesday.
“If the meeting’s main purpose is to pressurise me to withdraw the bill, then there is no purpose for that sort of meeting,” she said.
“But if the purpose of meeting is to go into the safeguards in the proposed legislation, then I think the best platform to do that is the bills committee of the Legislative Council and not a closed-door meeting with the chief executive.”
In March, the government proposed rolling out a case-by-case system that would allow the city to handle extradition requests from jurisdictions where there were no pre-existing deals – most notably mainland China and Taiwan. The legal sector, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over how the law may put local residents at risk, but the government has said that human rights and procedural safeguards will be maintained.
The bills committee for vetting the bill made no progress on Tuesday, with still no formal chairperson or vice-chairperson elected. The process, which usually takes half an hour, has been delayed over the course of two meetings this month as democrats sought to stall proceedings.
Democratic Party lawmaker James To was tasked with presiding over the meeting, but pro-Beijing lawmakers have accused him of filibustering by entertaining a series of procedural questions. To maintained that he acted within the legislature’s house rules.
On Tuesday, pro-Beijing lawmakers mostly abstained from the meeting in response to the democrats’ delay tactics. Lawmakers Michael Luk, Kwok Wai-keung and Steven Ho were spotted sitting idly outside the meeting room.
“[To] has a career in acting after he retires,” Luk said.
Lawmaker Paul Tse, who is widely expected to be the pro-Beijing camp’s candidate to head the bills committee, said that his side had reached a consensus countering the democrats’ actions.
It was “unprecedented” for a committee to fail to elect its leadership after four hours, Tse said, and the pro-Beijing camp would consider using the House Committee – which is in charge of creating bills committees – as a way to step in.
The pro-Beijing camp has a majority in the Legislative Council, and the House Committee is headed by DAB lawmaker Starry Lee.
Secretary for Security John Lee also expressed disappointment at the second time that the bills committee failed to elect its leadership.
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