Hong Kong advisers urge extradition pause
A number of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s advisers have urged her to delay plans for a controversial change in extradition laws.
However, others still back the process and there is no evidence Ms Lam intends to delay.
Key adviser, Bernard Chan, favoured a pause as the “intense divisions” made it impossible to push on.
Protests were held this week to oppose a bill that could see some criminal suspects extradited to mainland China.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets on Sunday and Wednesday. Dozens of people were injured when Wednesday’s demonstration turned violent.
Hong Kong is a former British colony, but was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy.
Mr Chan, who is a member of the Executive Council, the key advisory body to Ms Lam, told Cable TV he did not think formal discussion of the bill – the step before a final vote – should continue at the moment.
“At a time when there are such intense divisions – to keep discussing this issue, the difficulty is very high,” he said.
Non-official executive member Lam Ching-choi has also supported a step back, as has pro-Beijing lawmaker, Michael Tien, who said: “She would gain points instead of losing points.”
Others want to proceed, including influential executive member Regina, the South China Morning Post has reported.
Ms Lam has herself stood by the bill.
The changes would allow for criminal extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau – decided on a case-by-case basis by Hong Kong courts.
It comes after a high-profile case where a Hong Kong man was accused of murdering his girlfriend on holiday in Taiwan but could not be extradited.
Hong Kong officials, including Ms Lam, say the bill is necessary to stop the city being a safe haven for criminals.
But many fear the law could be used to target political opponents of the Chinese state in Hong Kong.
Opposition activists also cite the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions and forced confessions in mainland China.
A large-scale march, which organisers said drew more than one million people, was held on Sunday.
Then on Wednesday, tens of thousands gathered to blockade streets around government headquarters to try to stop the second reading, or debate, of the extradition bill. –BBC