Top advisors for the Hong Kong Government softened their stances over the extradition bill amendment that would allow fugitives to be sent to China, increasing the chance the legislation will be delayed.
Executive Council convenor Bernard Chan said on Friday that it is now impossible for the Legislative Council to continue discussions over the extradition bill in light of what he called the “massive conflict” between police and protesters on Wednesday.
The government must consider what to do next, such as whether it needs to provide more explanations or consultations on the bill, so that confrontations do not worsen, Chan said on a Radio Television Hong Kong program on Friday morning.
A couple of executive councilors, changing their stances, said stepping back could be one of the options to ease the tensions in society.
Ronnie Tong Ka-wah said the government should consider various feasible plans now. He did not rule out the possibility of deferring the legislation so the government could have time to relaunch the consultation. However, he suggested that this would not be the best way to solve the problem, as the government could not drag out the legislation too long.
Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, another ExCo member, said she will support any decision by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to arrange more time for discussion over the bill, but she insisted that her baseline stance is not to retract it.
Lam Ching-choi, also the chairman of the Elderly Commission, said the government would consider every option.
New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said she had not heard anything about the government’s plan to retract the bill. The first thing the government should do is ensure all lawmakers start the meeting safely and debate the bill amendments in an orderly manner, Ip said.
She insisted that the legislation should keep moving because any action suggesting shelving of the bill would be tantamount to retraction.
If the government yields to public pressure, that will cause a serious blow to governance, Ip added.
The Carrie Lam administration had repeatedly insisted that the bill should be passed before Legco’s summer recess.
The change in stance came after Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to Britain, said in a television interview with the BBC that the central government had never instructed the Hong Kong government to amend the extradition law.
“The Central Government gave no instruction, no order about making an amendment. This amendment was initiated by the Hong Kong government. It is prompted by a murder case that happened in Taiwan.”
In Hong Kong, a group of netizens is busy preparing various kind of open letters to British, US and Australian government officials, asking the respective governments to revoke the right of resumption as a citizen of all Hong Kong government officials who pushed the amendment bill
Some government officials in Hong Kong renounced their overseas country citizenships in order to qualify to assume roles in the government, as required by the Basic Law, the mini-constitution in the city. Former British citizens include Chief Executive Carrie Lam, financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, secretary for security John Lee Ka-chiu and many others.
Another set of open letters sent to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights requests an investigation over the crackdown by the Hong Kong police on citizens during the protest in Admiralty two days ago.