Extradition fears refuted

Local | Phoenix Un 22 Mar 2019

The government is obliged to address the business sector's concerns about the fugitive law amendments, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor says.

But there is no conclusion on whether the government will exclude some white-collar crimes in the amendments, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu says.

The changes to two laws allowing the handover of fugitives to regions that the SAR doesn't have extradition deals with, such as the mainland and Taiwan, was proposed by the Security Bureau in February.

It caused concern among Hongkongers and the business community.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Lam defended the proposal, saying it would not undermine business freedom in the world's freest economy.

"We don't want Hong Kong to become a haven for fugitive offenders," she said. "We are doing this with a very good purpose, and if there are concerns it is obligatory for the government to address those concerns."

US consul general Kurt Tong said last month that signs of political encroachment by Beijing have raised cautionary flags for some observers about the future of Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy.

Lam stressed that the law amendment was proposed by the SAR government itself. It was wrong to blame it on Beijing.

"You could not regard this as intervention from the central government, or as a special scheme put in place to return fugitive offenders to mainland China," she said.

Meanwhile, Secretary for Security Lee dismissed talk that the government will exclude eight or 10 commerce-related offenses from the list of crimes eligible for extradition.

Dennis Ng Wang-pun, president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association, said after a meeting with Lee that the security chief had promised to consider it.

In response, Lee said he has not made any final decisions.

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