Are Hong Kong’s student demonstrators winning the battle to kill the hated extradition bill? It’s starting to look that way…
According to the South China Morning Post, the city’s largest English language newspaper, the city council are considering ‘pausing’ their plans to pass the bill – which would likely slow, but not stop, the process.
This comes after dozens were injured and nearly one dozen arrested on Wednesday, the most violent day of the protests so far. The city’s advisors are reportedly “torn”, with some advocating that city executive Carrie Lam offer a sop to the protest movement that has badly shaken the city, while others believe the government must push ahead with its plans.
Bernard Chan, the counsel’s non-official convenor, said it would be “impossible” to rush the amended legislation through, while city executive Carrie Lam Ching-choi and Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun have both advocated taking a step back.
Advisors also said they had underestimated the backlash from the business community over the bill and the public’s violent reaction, which brought the city to a standstill as thousands occupied critical motorways.
Of course, nobody wanted to see the city’s legislature “paralyzed” by a single piece of legislation either.
“What happened on Wednesday is saddening and is not something that we would want to see,” Chan said in a radio phone-in programme.
“We indeed need to review what to do.”
“Our first task right now is on how to mollify the public to avoid more clashes in future.”
A group of 22 former lawmakers, meanwhile, sent Lam a letter imploring her to withdraw the unpopular bill immediately, and exhorting her advisors to resign if it isn’t abandoned. In the letter, the former lawmakers asked Lam to listen to Hong Kong’s “future generation” – that is, the students who have been flooding the streets and getting embroiled in scuffles with police.
Signatories included former secretary for security Peter Lai Hing-ling, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, former deputy secretary for economic services Elizabeth Bosher and former Legco Senior Member Allen Lee Peng-fei. Ultimately, the letter asks why the bill must be rushed through the process when so many are asking for more time for the legislature to review it.
“This is our future generation to be cherished, how can anyone with a heart not be pained to see the treatment they received?” the statement read.
“A deeply divided society, serious concerns of the international community – are these the sacrifices to be made to satisfy the will of the chief executive? What great public interest is supposed to be served by the hurried passage of this Bill?”
“We call on the chief executive to yield to public opinion and withdraw the Bill for more thorough deliberation. We call on her governing team, including all principal officials and members of the Executive Council to do their duty to advise her so to do. Should their advice be ignored, we call upon them to resign.”
The former security secretary who drafted the existing extradition law, meanwhile, said both sides needed to take a step back and reassess and cool down. Withdrawing the bill temporarily would be one way to accomplish this.
Of course, with Beijing breathing down its neck, the notion that the city council will simply ‘back down’ in the face of public pressure seems a little far-fetched, no matter how violent the protests become.
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