Rival Legco panels on extradition bill remain in deadlock

May 14, 2019 16:42
The Legislative Council is still unable to start work on the government proposal to amend the extradition laws. Photo: Bloomberg

The Legislative Council bills committee was still unable to start work on a government proposal to amend the extradition laws as two rival camps remained in a deadlock on Tuesday morning, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

On Saturday, chaos erupted between lawmakers from the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps as they held simultaneous meetings in the same room.

After the chaos that lasted about four hours, Abraham Shek Lai-him from the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong announced at around noon that the meeting would be adjourned until Tuesday morning.

However, the same pandemonium seen at the weekend occurred again as the pan-democrats entered the conference room and took their seats at 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, or 15 minutes earlier than the pro-establishment lawmakers.

Shek, escorted by security guards and some pro-establishment lawmakers but surrounded by several pan-dems who blocked his way, finally managed to enter the room, only to leave soon afterwards as he could not make it to his seat.

While he succeeded in entering the conference room in his second attempt and announced the start of the meeting, he called it off soon afterwards, saying the environment was too unfavorable for the meeting to proceed.

The meeting held by the pan-democratic camp, which unanimously elected To as the committee’s chairman and Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang as deputy chairman last week, also ended in less than an hour.

Shek told media later that he had hoped lawmakers from both camps could calm themselves and do their job but what happened in the morning convinced him that the committee would not yield any result even if another 10 meetings of the committee were held in the future.

Shek said he would write to Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who chairs the House Committee, to seek Lee’s directions.

Meanwhile, in the pan-dem meeting, some lawmakers urged To, as their committee chair, to negotiate with the government and the pro-establishment camp so that the current deadlock could be resolved.

In response, To called for a tripartite meeting to be held in the next few days so that representatives from the pro-establishment camp, the pan-democratic camp and the government can sit down to come up with a solution to solve the current impasse.

He said he hoped Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, other government officials and those responsible for Hong Kong affairs in the central government will heed the call.

To said it would be impractical for the government to keep pushing the pro-establishment camp to act on the bill and putting both camps under pressure.

Ahead of the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday morning, Lam told media that the administration will proactively listen to lawmakers' views during their scrutiny of the bill at Legco.

Lam said the bill was first tabled to Legco in early April. But it is regretful that a bills committee has yet to be formed after six weeks, she said, adding that it is unprecedented.

The chief executive urged legislators to respect each other and fulfill their duties to vet the proposed changes to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.

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