Govt finally buries its 'dead' extradition bill - RTHK
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Govt finally buries its 'dead' extradition bill

2019-10-23 HKT 15:00
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  • Govt finally buries its 'dead' extradition bill
The government has formally withdrawn its disastrous extradition bill, half a year after its first reading in Legco and eight months after it was first proposed.

Security Secretary John Lee announced the move on Wednesday, with pro-democracy legislators immediately shouting slogans demanding his resignation.

"For the purpose of spelling out clearly the position of the Special Administrative Region Government, in accordance with rule 64(2), I formally announce the withdrawal of the bill," Lee said.

Almost the entire team of government ministers were in the chamber for the meeting, although Chief Executive Carrie Lam was not present.

The proceedings didn't last long and the meeting was suspended when the Civic Party's Kwok Ka-ki refused to heed the president's order to leave the chamber. The government officials then filed out.

The introduction of the bill sparked off Hong Kong's current unrest and its withdrawal was one of five key demands of protesters who continue to take to the streets in their tens of thousands.

The authorities had cited the murder of Hong Kong woman Poon Hiu-wing in Taiwan last year as showing a need to amend the city's extradition laws, because under current legislation the suspect in the case, Chan Tong-kai, could not be handed over to "any other part of the People's Republic of China".

Lee officially withdrew the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill just hours after Chan walked free from prison after serving time for stealing some of Poon's belongings and money.

Chan was believed to be planning to voluntarily turn himself over to the Taiwan authorities, as a row continued between Taipei and Hong Kong over the arrangements for his surrender.

Lam had sparked fury in the city after pushing ahead with the legislation even after around a million people joined a protest in early June demanding it be dropped.

In what had appeared to be a major climbdown, she suspended the bill on June 15, three days after violent battles between protesters and police broke out for the first time in what would later spiral into months of unrest.

But protesters weren't satisfied with the suspension, warning the bill could be quickly brought back before legislators, and the anti-government action not only continued but also escalated.

Despite having repeatedly insisted that the bill was "dead", Lam went further on September 4 when she announced via a video address that it would be formally withdrawn once Legco resumed early in October.