Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung has apologized to the public for proposing a private member’s bill that would allow the extradition of a Hong Kong murder suspect to Taiwan, saying he should have thought things through before taking action.
Announcing the proposal on Thursday morning, Cheung said his bill was only meant to help the family of a Hong Kong woman murdered in Taiwan to obtain justice.
But Cheung said that while he has the right to withdraw the bill at any time to prevent the government or the pro-establishment camp from re-tabling the extradition bill, the fact that his proposal met with strong opposition online forced him to withdraw it six hours after his announcement, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The murder case Cheung was referring to involves a Hong Kong man, Chan Tong-kai, who admitted killing his girlfriend, also a Hongkonger, during a trip to Taiwan in February 2018 before he fled back to Hong Kong soon afterwards.
Chan was given a prison term of 29 months by the Hong Kong High Court after being tried in the city for money laundering.
As Hong Kong has no extradition agreement with Taiwan, Chan, who is expected to be freed as soon as this October, cannot be sent there to face trial.
Citing the case, the government had proposed to amend Hong Kong’s extradition laws to plug the legal loophole that allows fugitives to hide in the city.
However, the proposed legislation triggered massive protests as it would allow the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China as well.
The private member’s bill proposed by Cheung came after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said last Tuesday that the extradition bill tabled by the government is dead.
Hours after announcing his proposal, the lawmaker retracted the bill and admitted that he had misjudged the timing.
He apologized to the public, saying that he had failed to offer sufficient explanations for the bill and promised he would not bring it back again.
Speaking to media in the evening, Cheung said he can understand that people have many doubts about his proposal.
To avoid the current anti-extradition movement losing its focus and creating controversy over his bill, he decided to withdraw it, he said.
The matter has made him realize that the “society is on the verge of exploding”, he added.
Still, Cheung said the fact that the Department of Justice has vetted and supported his bill indicated that there are other ways to deal with the Taiwan case, only that they are ignored by the government.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice, meanwhile, reiterated that Hong Kong should consider signing an agreement of mutual legal assistance with the island to ensure justice can be served on the basis of equality, dignity, reciprocity and human rights protection.
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