Rival camps agree to talk amid deadlock

Top News | Phoenix Un 16 May 2019

Lawmakers from the two rival camps have agreed to hold talks to resolve the deadlock in Legislative Council deliberations over the extradition law bill, after the government rejected suggestions for a tripartite meeting.

The pan-democrats' James To Kun-sun proposed a tripartite meeting with the government and the pro-establishment camp to solve the deadlock over the law amendment and the two bills committees fighting over it.

After the second failure of the pro-establishment version of the bills committee to elect its chairman, convener of the camp Martin Liao Cheung-kong said his group welcomed the talks. But Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung shot it down in the afternoon.

The pro-establishment camp then decided to have a bilateral meeting with the pan-democrats

Liao, deputy convener Gary Chan Hak-kan, Tommy Cheung Yu-yan of the Liberal Party and Alice Mak Mei-kuen of the Federation of Trade Unions will represent the pro-establishment camp at the meeting this morning.

They will meet with democracy camp meetings convener Claudia Mo Man-ching, Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai, Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu and the Professionals Guild's Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong.

Liao said his group has no preset agenda though it insisted there should only be one bills committee.

"We are not trying to solve the 'twin' [bills committees] problem, as we don't acknowledge such a problem, because we only recognize one and only one committee," Liao said.

Mo said the talks are bound to be difficult, adding the committee chaired by To is constitutional and legal.

"We may wipe the slate clean and start all over again, having James To as the presiding member to elect the bills committee chairman," Mo said.

Legco senior assistant legal adviser Timothy Tso Chi-yuen wrote a letter on April 30 to the Security Bureau posting eight legal questions regarding the fugitive law amendment.

The bureau replied to Tso yesterday, saying the current case-by-case extradition arrangement to jurisdictions having no long-term agreement with Hong Kong is impractical as it could have been made in a rush during the legislative procedure back in 1996.

On the claim that the original intention of the fugitive law was to exclude the mainland, the bureau said the omission of the mainland was only due to the localization of British-era laws.

The bureau also admitted that the Hong Kong government may freeze properties and collect evidence at the request of mainland authorities.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Bar Association, Philip Dykes, together with 11 former chairmen - including Martin Lee Chu-ming, Kuman Ramanathan and Audrey Eu Yuet-mee - jointly signed a statement opposing the fugitive law amendment.

If the fugitive law amendment was implemented, they said, the traditional safeguard that fugitives would only be transferred to jurisdiction compatible with Hong Kong would be circumvented.

phoenix.un@singtaonewscorp.com

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