As Hong Kong people staged a million-strong march on Sunday to denounce the extradition bill, the government has stepped up efforts to seal the support of the pro-establishment camp for its controversial legislation.
The administration is said to have begun reaching out to the various pro-Beijing parties, calling on them to express clearly their continuing endorsement of the legislative initiative just as the Civil Human Rights Front was announcing the massive turnout for its anti-extradition bill march.
As a result, thanks to the government’s intense efforts, the New People’s Party became the first to publicly reaffirm its commitment to supporting the law change through a statement published at 7:30 pm on Sunday.
Then at around 11 pm the same night, the administration issued a statement announcing that the amendment bill will be tabled to Legco for resumption of second reading this Wednesday as scheduled.
And hot on the heels of the government’s announcement, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, and the Liberal Party, as well as six pro-establishment lawmakers without political affiliation, quickly rallied behind the administration in support of its legislative push.
Nevertheless, it is not the case that members of the pro-establishment camp had no concerns at all about the bill, particularly in light of Sunday’s huge protest.
Besides, they were also worried about getting “double-crossed” by the government, i.e. the Security Bureau could suddenly withdraw the bill without notifying them beforehand, thereby putting them in a very awkward position.
As such, according to sources, the pro-establishment parties agreed to throw their weight behind the administration without reservation only after they had put out feelers, asking the government leadership whether everything about the law change will go exactly as planned on Wednesday, and had been reassured by the leadership.
Now it is almost a foregone conclusion that the government will have enough votes to secure the passage of the bill. Yet what will prove truly difficult is how to alleviate public resentment at the highly controversial law change.
To address this problem, some pro-establishment lawmakers on Sunday put forward a number of suggestions on how to make the bill more presentable to the public, such as the New People’s Party’s proposal of introducing a notification mechanism to the bill.
As to the various pro-establishment organizations which stepped forward to root for the law change on Sunday, there has been talk that they were mobilized in order to boost the impetus for the legislative change.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 11
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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