Stern chairman looms for fugitive law

Local | Phoenix Un 17 Apr 2019

The favorite candidate to chair the fugitive law amendment bills committee, legislator Paul Tse Wai-chun, says he would preside over meetings with "extraordinary methods" and would limit committee members to only five minutes of speech each time.

The first reading of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 has finished and the second reading has been adjourned.

The bills committee will meet this morning. Legislative Council documents show that 62 legislators have joined the committee. All 24 pan-democrats, as well as Cheng Chung-tai of Civic Passion and Pierre Chan Pui-yin of the medical sector, are on the committee.

But they failed to outnumber the pro-establishment camp, and Tse is expected to be elected chairman while Ronick Chan Chun-ying of the finance sector will be the vice chairman. Tse, speaking on a radio program yesterday, said it would be one of his most difficult tasks since he became legislator in 2008 because members opposing the bill would use all tactics to delay the lawmaking process, so he would need to keep order.

"I might need to chair the meeting by extraordinary means, and I might have to be strict in keeping a time limit [of each member speaking] in the meeting," Tse said. One example was that every legislator could speak for only five minutes each time, then the time limit would reduced each time after.

The High Court will sentence Chan Tong-kai, the 19-year-old man who allegedly committed murder in Taiwan, on four counts of money laundering on April 29. His case prompted the government to amend the law and extradite him to Taiwan.

But Chan could be released soon as the money involved was not much and he has been detained for one year.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, speaking before yesterday's Executive Council meeting, said the fugitive law would be unacceptable without retrospective effect.

"If there was no retrospective effect, meaning people committing crimes in the past and absconding to Hong Kong shouldn't be arrested, then I believe the public won't accept such amendment," Lam said.

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