The political turmoil arising from the proposed extradition bill is still gripping Hong Kong, but our government has remained defiant against public calls for withdrawing the bill and establishing an independent commission of inquiry.
As a result of the ongoing political impasse, our senior government officials are keeping a low profile and doing nothing, while a lot of proposed policy initiatives are being put on hold.
There is talk that, among these initiatives is the proposed arrangement put forward by the administration earlier on, under which Hong Kong citizens convicted of criminal offenses by overseas courts can apply for transferring back to our city to serve their sentences.
The proposed arrangement has been shelved out of concerns that it could once again touch a nerve in society, according to the talk.
Back at the end of May and in early June, when the government was still firing on all cylinders pitching the now-suspended extradition bill, it promised to study the feasibility of amending the existing Transfer of Sentenced Persons Ordinance once the bill is passed in an attempt to garner support from the business sector and the public for the legislative push.
The study, the administration said, would include discussing with the mainland the feasibility of an arrangement wherein Hong Kong citizens convicted of criminal offenses by mainland courts can apply for transfer back to the city so as to serve their sentences here.
Coming into effect back in 1997, the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Ordinance allows residents sentenced overseas to transfer back to their place of origin to serve their sentences.
So far a total of 17 jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, France, Italy and Macau have entered into agreements on the transfer of sentenced persons with the HKSAR government, but not including the mainland.
However, as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has already announced that the extradition bill is “dead”, a government source has told us that the administration has no intention of studying again the plan to amend the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Ordinance at this point.
That’s because under the current politically sensitive atmosphere, pressing ahead with the proposed amendment could give rise to an impression among the public that the administration is attempting to pursue the extradition bill.
As to the four proposals put forward by the parents of Taiwan murder victim Poon Hiu-wing, including extraditing murder suspect Chan Tong-kai to Taiwan on a “one-off” basis, the government so far hasn’t responded to them yet, let alone taken any solid action.
It is widely expected that the four suggestions would be endorsed by both the pan-dems and the pro-establishment camp because they are considered as legally feasible.
Nevertheless, a person who is familiar with the Hong Kong-Taiwan affairs has pointed out that the Taiwan side will definitely not conclude any agreement with the HKSAR government over Chan’s extradition given the continuing turmoil over the extradition bill since June.
Besides, Taiwan is set to hold its presidential election in January 2020, and it is therefore highly unlikely that Taipei would discuss this politically radioactive issue with Hong Kong at this critical point, the person added.
In other words, extraditing Chan to Taiwan on an “one-off” basis is difficult to be implemented.
As the ongoing firestorm of resistance triggered by the Taiwan murder case is continuing rage in our city, all people, from the chief executive herself and her principal officials to the average citizens, have become losers.
Perhaps the only winner in this political turmoil is the incumbent Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is now aggressively seeking re-election in 2020, and whose popularity has seen a major rebound following the outbreak of the anti-extradition bill movement.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 26
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
– Contact us at [email protected]