Ip says passing fugitive bill will show fears unfounded

Local | Phoenix Un 20 May 2019

Some business-sector objections to the fugitive law amendments are being raised simply because of misunderstanding, says Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po.

The business sector, besides the pan-democrats, are the most outspoken against the fugitive law amendment, under which they fear they might unknowingly commit an offense in the mainland, leaving them open to extradition bids to the mainland.

But Chan wrote on his weekly blog that some of these questions and opposition were simply due to misunderstandings of the bill in the early stage.

"For example, some suggested certain extraterritorial crimes, which are not considered crimes in Hong Kong, thus they won't apply in this amendment," Chan wrote.

He also said the government had set out "eight circumstances of no extradition," that is fugitives would not be transferred, and they include non-conformity of "double criminality," when political crimes are involved, and if the death penalty would be the punishment.

Chan also said the government had already exempted nine white-collar crimes from the list of crimes eligible for extradition after considering social opinions, and the government would consider other suggestions which were feasible and complied with the motive of the amendment.

Liaison Office director Wang Zhimin hosted a meeting with Hong Kong deputies of the National People's Congress and Hong Kong delegates of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on Friday over the fugitive law amendment.

Executive Councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said on a TVB program that the Liaison Office endorsement would boost the Legislative Council in passing the amendment, as pro-establishment members with questions would also show support.

"As you can see, recently a Mr Tien [NPC deputy Michael Tien Puk-sun] also said he would come back to the line, thus all pro-establishment should be supporting," Ip said.

"It's the best to pass it as soon as possible, as people will see that nothing will happen after passing it."

She also did not find that the government should make more compromises in any sense as protection of human rights in the current package was already enough.

But she believed the government had underestimated the controversy regarding the fugitive law amendment, and the public consultation was too brief, which has taught the government a lesson. And that would be useful for the Basic Law Article 23 enactment in the future, Ip said.

Meanwhile, it was suggested that the current deadlock of the "twin" bills committee of the law amendment in the Legislative Council could be solved by dissolving the bills committee now presided over by the pro-establishment senior legislator Abraham Shek Lai-him, and return the bill to the council meeting for resumption of second reading directly, thus skipping the bills committee stage completely.

The Legco House Committee had a meeting about this suggestion and its chairwoman, Starry Lee Wai-king, decided that she would consult all legislators first before making a decision.

She said yesterday that it would not mean legislators would be deprived of the chance to discuss the bill and file amendments.

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