15 December 2019
Anson Chan is among the former senior civil servants who have called on the government to withdraw the extradition bill immediately and set up an inquiry into the June 12 incidents in Admiralty. Photo: HKEJ
Anson Chan is among the former senior civil servants who have called on the government to withdraw the extradition bill immediately and set up an inquiry into the June 12 incidents in Admiralty. Photo: HKEJ

Ex-officials urge fugitive bill full withdrawal, June 12 probe

The government should immediately withdraw the extradition bill, rather than merely suspend the proposed legislation, and also set up an independent investigation committee to look into the June 12 clashes between demonstrators and police, several prominent citizens wrote in a joint letter.  

In the letter sent to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, which was signed by 32 people including former senior government officials, ex-lawmakers and some public figures, the group also called on the government to “remove and withdraw” its characterization of the Admiralty incidents as a riot, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Among the signatories were former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, former secretary for then-constitutional affairs Michael Sze Cho-cheung and former secretary for security Peter Lai Hing-ling.

Expressing “concern and apprehension” about the recent developments on Hong Kong, they said in the letter that although the government claimed it has no plan to continue with the bill anymore, its refusal to withdraw the bill is “fueling suspicion” among people in all sectors of society, which in turn is preventing Hong Kong from returning to normalcy.

Lam’s intent does not matter because people have totally lost confidence in the administration, the prominent citizens wrote, adding that there had been precedents of bill withdrawals in the past.

Sze criticized Lam’s “initial intent”, saying it was wrong in the first place because revising the extradition law would tear down the wall between the mainland and Hong Kong and leave the city without protection, something that no Hongkonger can accept no matter the government rationale.

As for categorization of the June 12 clashes as a riot, the group claimed that such move was not consistent with the Public Order Ordinance and therefore the “label” should be removed and withdrawn.

They urged the government to establish an independent commission of inquiry to look into all the aspects of the government’s handling of the bill. Only by doing so can we uncover the truth, have justice served, heal the social wounds and remove mistrust, they said.

Meanwhile, former transport and housing secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung also suggested setting up such panel, but added that the panel’s work should not be expanded to the whole matter of extradition law amendments.

Attending RTHK’s City Forum on Sunday, Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu and Liberal Party leader Felix Chung Kwok-pan both agreed that only an independent investigation can help clarify the truth of the June 12 incident.

However, Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the largest political party in the legislature, disagreed.

An investigation that only targets police officers may get nothing but biased conclusions, Lee told a TV program on Sunday.

Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole deputy to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, called an independent probe directed at police officers it inappropriate.

Such move will hurt the morale of the police and do nothing good for the cause of social stability and order, Tam said, adding that the public should show understanding of the hard work of police.

On Sunday night, the Civil Human Rights Front, which organized two massive demonstrations against the extradition bill on June 9 and 16, held a rally at the Legco demonstration zone wherein it called for the police be held accountable for their alleged abuse of power.

CHRF deputy convenor Figo Chan Ho-hang said the group will step up its campaign in districts in the days ahead, with a key demand being an independent inquiry panel to look into the police tactics against demonstrators.

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