HK chief Carrie Lam withdraws extradition bill

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A screenshot of the video message of HK Chief Executive Carrie Lam

 

Bowing to public pressure, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam today (September 4) announced the full withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill that sparked the anti-government protests that have rocked Hong Kong since June.

In a pre-recorded video message aired on television, Ms. Lam said the government will formally move to withdraw the bill when the Legislative Council resumes its session next month

“The Fugitive Offenders Bill will be formally withdrawn in order to fully allay public concerns. The Secretary for Security will move a motion according to the Rules of Procedure when the Legislative Council resumes,” Mrs. Lam said.

The decision to withdraw the was one of “four actions” she announced today to jumpstart a dialogue that can help society move forward after more than two months of protests.

The other three include supporting the work of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), which is conducting an investigation into the actions of the Hong Kong Police Force, particularly during the attack by suspected mobsters on MTR passengers in Yuen Long on July 21.

“In addition to overseas experts, I have appointed two new members to the IPCC, namely Mrs Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping and Mr Paul Lam Ting-kwok, SC. I pledge that the Government will seriously follow up the recommendations made in the IPCC’s report,” Mrs. Lam said.

The Chief Executive said she and other ranking members of her government would also conduct a “direct dialogue” with Hongkongers this month “to address the discontent in society.”

She said she would invite community leaders, professionals and academics to “independently examine and review society’s deep-seated problems and to advise the government on finding solutions.”

“After more than two months of social unrest, it is obvious to many that discontentment extends far beyond the bill. It covers political, economic and social issues including the oft mentioned problems relating to housing and land supply, income distribution, social justice and mobility and opportunities for our young people as well as how the public could be fully engaged in the government’s decision-making,” Mrs. Lam said.

She said the government’s foremost priority now was to “end violence, to safeguard the rule of law and to restore order and safety in society.”

“As such, the Government will strictly enforce the law against all violent and illegal acts,” she said.

But many protest leaders were not impressed with student activist Joshua Wong saying that Lam’s announcement was “too little and too late” after more than 1,200 protesters being arrested.

“Too little and too late now…She needs to address all five demands (of the protesters),” Wong said.

Besides the withdrawal of the extradition bill, protesters are also calling for universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, the release of arrested protesters, and the removal of the designation of the June 12 protest as a “riot.”

Demonstrators are reportedly planning another protest action near the airport on Saturday (September 7).

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