A proposed bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited from Hong Kong to China is dead, the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday without formally withdrawing it.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists ignored Lam’s assurance and said their protests would continue until the extradition bill is officially withdrawn.
Lam’s earlier decision to suspend the bill is seen as a knee-jerk reaction to unprecedented street protests by hundreds of thousands of people against extradition.
Lam said people are mistaken if they believe the extradition bill is going to be revived. There is no such plan and the bill is dead, she said.
Lam also appealed to protesters to give the government an opportunity to break the current impasse.
Pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong, above, however, dismissed Lam’s statement as a lie to confuse protesters.
Pro-democracy activists argue that if Lam can acknowledge that the extradition bill was a total failure, she should scrap it.
Such a move will allay fears among Hong Kongers that the freedom guaranteed to them under the ‘one country two systems’ during the 1997 handover by Britain is being withdrawn.
Although China says the contentious extradition bill will target only fugitives, Hong Kongers fear politicians, rights activists, lawyers, writers and artists will be extradited to China where they may be convicted after sham trials.
The peaceful protests in Hong Kong took a violent turn on July 1, the 22nd anniversary of the handover, when hundreds of young protesters stormed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and vandalised the place.
Last Sunday, the protest took a new turn when tens of thousands of activists targeted a train station where citizens from mainland China arrive to explain the protest to them.