Lam caught between HK and Beijing

Top News | Phoenix Un 23 May 2019

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she can't act on her own accord and extradite whichever fugitives Beijing wants.

One of the concerns regarding the fugitive law amendment is that people have no confidence in rule of law in the mainland, but Lam, who has the power to initiate extradition procedures and make final decisions, can't reject any extradition requests by Beijing.

In an article this month, University of Hong Kong law professor Albert Chen Hung-yee said "the concern for many people in Hong Kong is that the chief executive can hardly refuse any extradition request from central authorities."

In a question-an-answer session yesterday, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin voiced public concern over the mainland's judicial system and quoted Chen's opinion.

"As the chief executive is held accountable to Beijing, is it the case that the chief executive has no right to refuse the mainland's requests, and has to transfer fugitives even if the court rules against extraditing them?" Wong said.

Lam answered that she is accountable to both Beijing and Hongkongers, and the courts will be hearing cases about "everything under the sun."

"There is the fourth estate in Hong Kong, as the media has great power of supervision, thus the chief executive cannot transfer the fugitive if the court rules that he shouldn't be transferred due to a lack of evidence," Lam said. "It's not the case that chief executives can act on their accord to transfer somebody to other jurisdictions."

Wong also emphasized the suggestion that extraditions to the mainland should only be granted if the Supreme People's Court or the Supreme People's Procuratorate make a request.

Lam said the government has listened to many opinions over the past three months, and will make positive responses to some of the suggestions in the future.

Au Nok-hin of Council Front criticized Lam for falsely blaming foreign interference, which caused Beijing's intervention and eliminated alternatives to the fugitive law amendment.

"Western countries won't easily intervene, but the Communist Party eliminates all alternatives due to your accusations of Western intervention," Au said.

Lam mocked Au, saying that the pan-democrats had double standards by encouraging foreign intervention.

Meanwhile, a Chinese Chamber of Commerce delegation met the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference chairman Wang Yang in Beijing.

Chamber boss Jonathan Choi Koon-shum quoted Wang as saying that vice premier Han Zheng had stated Beijing's support for the fugitive law amendment the day before, and hopes the chamber will back the SAR government in getting it passed.

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