Property magnate Lau drops legal challenge to extradition bill

May 30, 2019 15:15
Tycoon Joseph Lau withdrew his application for a judicial review of the extradition bill in the hope that it will be conducive to reducing disputes in society, his lawyers said. Photo: HKEJ

Fugitive tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung has withdrawn his application for a judicial review of the proposed extradition law amendments.

Sit, Fung, Kwong and Shum, the law firm representing Lau in the legal challenge application, said in a statement that the businessman hopes the action of withdrawing or discontinuing his application will be “conducive to reducing disputes in [Hong Kong] society”, adding that “it may also mean [Lau] has proffered his personal contribution”.

A copy of the summons to withdraw or discontinue the application has been delivered to the High Court and the office of the justice secretary.

In the statement, the law firm said Lau is a businessman who loves his country and Hong Kong and always supports the government in administering the HKSAR according to law.

The purpose of the application is to protect Lau’s “personal rights and interests” and it is not aimed at the country or the Hong Kong government.

However, the statement said, “Lau is deeply saddened by the various arguments and discords in [Hong Kong] society today.

He, therefore, hopes that his action of withdrawing his application for leave to apply for the judicial review will contribute towards maintaining "harmony, stability, prosperity and progress" in society.

Last week, a hearing of Lau’s application was scheduled for June 21, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Lau, former chairman of real estate developer Chinese Estates Holdings (00127.HK), applied for the judicial review in early April, a move seen as part of his efforts to avoid being extradited to Macau.

In 2014, a Macau court found him guilty of bribery and money laundering in a case involving the gaming hub’s former secretary for transport and public works Ao Man-long. In absentia, Lau was sentenced to five years and three months in prison.

But Lau, who claimed ill health for not attending the trial, has been living in Hong Kong because the city has no formal extradition agreement with Macau.

Asked by media about Lau’s latest action, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah declined to comment, saying it is obviously not apt for her to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convener of the pan-democrats' meeting group of lawmakers, suspected someone might have told Lau not to worry about being transferred to Macau after the bill is passed, prompting Lau to drop his application for a judicial review.

However, pro-Beijing lawmaker Leung Che-cheung of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong speculated that some insiders might have told Lau that he won't be extradited to Macau even if the law is passed.

Another pro-establishment lawmaker, Priscilla Leung mei-fun from the Business and Professionals Alliance, said Lau's action came at the right time.

If the government makes some changes to the bill, people won't think it is favoring Lau, RTHK quoted Leung as saying.

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