Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung has resurrected the debate on the possible extradition of a Hong Kong murder suspect to Taiwan, saying he has submitted a private member’s bill to allow the rendition to take place.
The case involves Poon Hiu-wing who was allegedly killed by her then-Hong Kong boyfriend Chan Tong-kai during a trip in Taiwan last year. Chan fled back to Hong Kong later but was jailed for money laundering, which involved Poon’s money. Chan is now serving a 29-month jail term in Pik Uk Prison and could be set free by October this year.
Cheung’s submission came after local media reported that Poon’s father had sent a letter to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in late June, pleading for her to consider every alternative in the case, news website HK01.com reported.
In the letter, Poon’s father said he is open to four suggestions. One, to empower Hong Kong courts to examine a Taiwan extradition request in a one-off arrangement; second, to use administrative means to hand Chan to Taiwan; three, to give Hong Kong courts extraterritorial rights, and four, to persuade Chan to surrender to Taiwan authorities.
Some of the options have been already mooted by experts and lawmakers as possible solutions in the past six months when opposition to the government’s proposal mounted.
Lam has cited the murder case as a prime reason for introducing the bill amendment and the inability to return Chan to Taiwan to face trial, as the bill would scrap a clause in the city’s existing extradition law that expressly forbids extradition to “any other part of the People’s Republic of China,” including Taiwan and Macau.
Lam once insisted the bill must be changed before this summer, leading to weeks of protests, political paralysis and social unrest in Hong Kong.
But it is understood that Poon’s father had not received any reply from the government.
On Thursday, Cheung agreed that there is a pressing need to amend the law and said his plan will only enable case-by-case, one-way surrender of the Hong Kong suspect to Taiwan.
He said his bill would change the part of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance that currently rules out extraditions to any other area of the People’s Republic of China, to only ruling out the surrender of fugitives to the mainland and Macau.
Cheung said he wants to help the family of the murder victim get justice before it is “too late,” Radio Television Hong Kong reported. “To introduce the bill at this moment might stir up further controversies, we certainly understand that. But we really intend to solve the problem of the injustice of the Taiwan murder case,” he said.
“We know that time is of the essence. The suspect could be released in October. If no law is passed within this time frame, justice may not prevail,” Cheung said.
Meanwhile, Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said Lam has formally rejected his proposal on giving the SAR’s courts the power to try Hong Kong suspects for murders committed overseas.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the largest pro-Beijing political party in Hong Kong which helped the Poon family, has said encouraging Chan to surrender is the best option.