Controversial Hong Kong bill is ‘dead’ – but not ‘withdrawn’
Hong Kong Protesters Worry About Their Future Under Chinese Rule
By Timothy Nerozzi
July 11, 2019
By Tim Nerozzi
Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, has announced that the violently protested legislation, allowing the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China, is “dead.”
The term “dead,” however, is dangerously ambiguous to protestors.
Lam and her administration have repeatedly used the word “dead” to refer to the bill; earlier in the year, she claimed the extradition bill would be “dead” in 2020. Despite now using the word in the present tense, this language has been interpreted by protestors as duplicitous.
“There are still lingering doubts about the government’s sincerity—or worries about whether the government will restart the process in the legislative council,” said Lam in response to sceptics of her true intentions. “So, I reiterate here; there is no such plan.”
“Withdrawal” is the term most have demanded to hear from the government comments on the issue.
“The proper way for Mrs Lam to “kill” the bill is to invoke article 64 of the Rules and Procedures, to FORMALLY WITHDRAW the bill,” said protest leader Joshua Wong on social media.
“However, she fully [ignored] this procedure in her speech.”
Wong, a Hong Kong activist whose first language is not English, has used his social media as a newswire from the front lines of the protests. His tweets are often aimed at specific legislators.
Despite the apparent victory on a key issue Wong and other protestors intend to push the protests further, demanding a free and fair election.
“Our demand is [a] free election because all governance crisis stems from the political [inequality]. We learned that the gov is planning to disqualify candidates again during District Council Election in November. I strongly oppose to further political screening,” said Wong on social media.
Protestors worry that if they relinquish prematurely, the government may blitz the legislation into law before grass-roots opposition can regroup.
The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Amendment Bill, the legislation that has been pushed by Carrie Lam and the government of mainland China, would allow the Chinese government to freely arrest and extradite persons from inside of Hong Kong. Apprehended citizens would be allowed to be taken back to the mainland for interrogation, processing, trial, or punishment.
Hong Kong citizens claimed that this bill would further compromise Hong Kong’s autonomy. Additionally, political dissenters would be placed at significant risk if the bill passed and left them vulnerable to political kidnapping.
The new law would also apply to foreign travelers or businessmen staying in Hong Kong short-term.
Hong Kong was returned to China after the expiration of the Joint Declaration, a legal treaty between China and Britain that ended British rule of the island nation in 1997 after more than a century of colonial rule.
The Joint Declaration guaranteed a high level of autonomy for Hong Kong; the Chinese government has hand-waved most tenants of the treaty. Many in the Chinese government have claimed that the Declaration is nothing but a historic document.
“This abrogation of legal responsibility is a declaration that China is prepared to break a treaty and go back on its word when it wants,” said Chris Patten in an opinion piece for the Financial Times. Patten was the last British Governor of Hong Kong and was one of the British politicians to participate in the handover of the country.
“The world should take note. If you cannot trust China on Hong Kong, where can you trust it?” said Patten.