Hong Kong suspends extradition bill ahead of Sunday’s protests

The Hong Kong government has suspended an unpopular bill that would have sent fugitives to mainland China.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, above, made the announcement at a presser on Saturday without saying when the extradition bill will be reintroduced in the legislative council.

Pro-democracy protesters led by the Civil Human Rights Front said the “delay would not be enough” and they would go ahead with the march on Sunday.

The government did not properly explain to public whom the bill would target and whom it would spare, Lam said, adding this led to unprecedented protests in Hong Kong last week.

The bill aims at plugging legal loopholes and preventing Hong Kong from being turned into a haven for fugitives. The legislation is, hence, valid, she said.

The government has no plans to withdraw the bill since such a move will make society believe the proposed legislation is useless.

Instead, the government would restart talks with all sections of society, listen to their diverse views and explain the bill clearly to them, Lam said.

Many Hong Kongers fear the bill is also aimed at extraditing local political activists to China where the accused will be convicted after sham trials.

Earlier, Lam wanted the controversial bill to be rushed through the legislative council before July. The bill was supposed to go for the second reading in the legislative council last week.

However, local reports said Lam may press the pause button to the bill after Beijing officials in charge of Hong Kong’s affairs met in Shenzhen on Friday to discuss the crisis.

Reports also said political allies and advisers of Lam were requesting her to review the stand on the bill.

Pro-democratic parties want Lam to step down since she has “lost credibility” as the city’s top leader.

Hong Kong saw the worst political violence since its 1997 handover to China on Wednesday when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse tens of thousands of protesters who rallied against the bill.

On Friday night, thousands of parents gathered in a city park to condemn the police action against predominantly young protesters.