Backlash spurs Cheung extradition backtrack

Top News | Cindy Wan 19 Jul 2019

Lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung has been forced to withdraw his proposal for a case-by-case extradition of fugitives to Taiwan, six hours after drawing flak for his "insensitive" move.

Cheung, the Labour Party vice chairman, admitted he misjudged the public reaction to his private member's bill which he announced at noon yesterday.

"I really wanted to find ways to seek justice for the Taiwan murder case, but it is not the right moment to put forward the bill," he said last night after apologizing.

He was referring to Hongkonger Chan Tong-kai, who fled to the SAR after allegedly killing his girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, in Taiwan.

His move outraged many, especially since Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had singled out the alleged murder by Chan in pushing for the now-suspended bill. Chan has jailed for 29 months for money laundering and is due to be released in October.

Cheung said he would reflect on his "misjudgment" and admitted he was not being sensitive enough.

A message on Lihkg forum read: "What you are doing would save Carrie Lam from her troubles. What you are doing would split protesters into two camps. Should we demand withdrawal of the bill or amendment of the bill? Can we just ask the government to respond to our five demands?"

Others were worried that his bill would allow Taiwan to extradite protesters to Hong Kong. Radio Free Asia yesterday reported that a dozen protesters who stormed the Legislative Council on July 1 are now in Taiwan seeking refuge.

Cheung attributed society's anxiety and fear to the public's loss of trust in the government and Legco, saying people are afraid that his bill will be twisted by pro-establishment legislators to allow extradition to China.

He had written to Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to request withdrawal of his member's bill yesterday.

The bill seeks to include Taiwan as of one of the regions to which Hong Kong can extradite fugitives, while excluding mainland China and Macau.

Meanwhile, Civic Party's lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu had his member's bill over the fugitive controversy rejected by the chief executive yesterday. His bill seeks to confer powers on the government and the judiciary to handle murder cases committed by Hongkongers overseas.

Yeung said the government has been denying all counter-proposals from the pro-democracy camp without offering any new solution to handle the murder case and pacify protesters.

cindymt.wan@singtaonewscorp.com

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