SAR chief executive says move will help city initiate dialogue, break impasse
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, announced on Wednesday the withdrawal of the already suspended extradition amendment bill, in a bid to help the city, which has been wracked by violence for nearly three months, initiate dialogue and move forward.
Announcing the decision in a televised speech, Lam stressed that the move was to fully allay public concerns. Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu will submit a motion to officially withdraw the bill when the Legislative Council resumes.
The chief executive also announced a number of measures to help break the city's political impasse.
Among them is the appointment of two new members of the Independent Police Complaints Council, a long-established watchdog for the city's police force. They are Barrister Paul Lam Ting-kwok, former chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, and Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping, a senior civil servant who has held various public offices.
Lam also pledged that from this month, she and other senior government officials will start a direct dialogue with people from all walks of life with different stances and backgrounds.
She also promised to invite community leaders, professionals and academics to independently examine and review society's deep-seated problems and make suggestions on solutions.
Lam noted that the protesters' discontent extends far beyond the extradition bill to include various deep-rooted problems. It reflects the desire for the public to become more engaged in government decisionmaking, she added.
Yet she also stressed that violence will never be a solution and the government will strictly enforce the law against all violent and illegal acts. Lam appealed to residents to replace conflicts with conversations and seek solutions to get out of the impasse.
The anti-extradition protests have devolved into violence and vandalism, creating mayhem in the city.
In February, the government proposed to amend the city's two extradition laws－the Fugitive Offenders and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters ordinances－in a bid to enable Hong Kong to surrender fugitive offenders on a case-by-case basis to other jurisdictions that have no formal long-term agreements with the SAR. The bill was suspended in June, and Lam later said that "the bill is dead".
On Aug 20, Lam said the government's plan was to establish an "open" and "direct" dialogue platform with cross-sector representatives to jointly seek ways for Hong Kong to move forward.