Xinhua News Agency: Mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong supports the revision of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in the HKSAR

 Xinhua News Agency: Mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong supports the revision of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in the HKSAR

The purpose of the amendment proposed by the HKSAR Government is to deal with the murder cases in Taiwan last year and to plug the loopholes in Hong Kongs overall criminal cooperation system. Relevant departments of the Central Government have repeatedly stressed that the Central Government will continue to firmly support the HKSAR Government in promoting the work of amending regulations. The revision of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance can establish the relationship of judicial assistance among regions, and is the proper meaning of implementing the Basic Law. It is also an important measure to safeguard the core value of the rule of law in Hong Kong and consolidate and enhance its good image of the rule of law.

In February 2018, a man in Hong Kong fled back to Hong Kong after killing his girlfriend in Taiwan and throwing his body away. After the police solved the case, the man could not be handed over to Taiwan for trial because there was no agreement between Hong Kong and Taiwan on criminal judicial assistance and the transfer of fugitives. The incident highlighted the loopholes in Hong Kongs law. Apart from failing to demonstrate justice and relieve the grief of the families of the deceased, it also allowed serious criminals to lurk in Hong Kong and threatened the personal safety of other citizens. The Special Administrative Region Government has put forward suggestions for amendments, which have both legal basis and realistic urgent needs.

In order to gain social support, over the past four months, the HKSAR Government has listened extensively to the views of all sectors of society on the revision of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and has responded positively to a number of suggestions. The Chief Executive of the Special Administrative Region, Lin Zheng Yue-e, and the heads of the relevant departments of the Regional Government have repeatedly said that they will continue to make intensive explanations to all sectors of society, continue to contact and listen to the views of all parties, and resolve their doubts through calm and rational discussions.

Zhang Jianzong, Chief Secretary for Administration of the SAR Government, said that in the past few months, the SAR Governments team has been intensively explaining to the public the original intention, content and urgency of the amendment, as well as the different opinions it should receive. The protection in the legislative proposals has been substantially strengthened three times, in terms of human rights and other safeguards and procedural safeguards, all of which are complete. All have legal effect.

Security is the basic guarantee of Hong Kongs prosperity and stability, and the rule of law and justice are the core values of Hong Kong. For a long time, it is on the cornerstone of security, rule of law and justice that Hong Kong has achieved its own development legend. Facing the future, Hong Kong needs to make every effort to safeguard the security of the Special Administrative Region, safeguard the core values of the rule of law and justice, and create a good environment for the people to live and work in peace and prosperity and development of Hong Kong. The SAR Government respects public opinion, acts in accordance with the law, actively promotes the revision of the Regulations on Fugitives, and conducts extensive consultation to obtain the support of the mainstream public opinion.

The Hong Kong Federation of Chinese Manufacturers reiterated its support for the revision of the draft Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, appealed to the public to discuss it in a rational and peaceful manner, and said that although Hong Kong had signed long-term agreements with 20 jurisdictions on the transfer of fugitives, there was still a problem of non-transfer of suspects of serious crimes between Hong Kong and more than 100 other countries and regions that had not yet signed agreements, which would give Hong Kong an opportunity to succeed. For the hiding place of criminals, it is urgent to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which can help to plug the current judicial loopholes and relieve the potential crisis of public security.

The Hong Kong Federation of Educators also indicated that the amendments could make up for the shortcomings of mutual legal assistance and joint fight against crime in Hong Kong, enhance judicial cooperation with other countries and surrounding areas, maintain social prosperity and stability, and thus avoid Hong Kong becoming a haven for fugitives.

The Grand Alliance for Justice Preservation and Repair Regulations, which is composed of people from all walks of life in Hong Kong, launched a joint initiative to support the Repair Regulations on April 16. As of 12:00 on June 12, the number of citizens participating in the online joint venture had reached nearly 900,000, according to the official website of the joint venture.

Huang Yinghao, convenor of the Major Alliance, said the figures showed that the proposal of the HKSAR Government to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance was supported by mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong. The general public expects the SAR Government to eliminate interference, complete the amendments on schedule, plug legal loopholes, safeguard the rule of law and justice, and avoid Hong Kong becoming a fugitive paradise.

In response to the brutal interference of external forces in the revision of the SAR regulations, several groups, such as the Fujian Association of Societies in Hong Kong and the Jinjiang Association of Societies, launched protests. Hong Kongs main political group, the Civil Construction Federation, petitioned the US Consulate General in Hong Kong on the afternoon of December 12, strongly opposing US interference in Chinas internal affairs. The CDA said that the amendment was a matter of the HKSAR, but the United States intervened in the amendment process many times. The HKSAR is a part of the territory of the country. The state enjoys complete sovereignty over Hong Kong and does not allow any external forces to interfere in the internal affairs of the HKSAR.

As for the amendment, during the consultation period, the Security Bureau of the SAR Government received about 4500 comments, of which about two-thirds supported the recommendations. Thereafter, the Chief Executive, in conjunction with the Executive Council, passed the Bill on Mutual Legal Assistance in Fugitive and Criminal Matters (Amendment) Bill 2019 to the Legislative Council on 26 March. The Bill was published in the Gazette on 29 March and read first and second in the Legislative Council on 3 April. The Legislative Council of the HKSAR was scheduled to hold a meeting on 12 June at 11:00 to review the draft amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. However, the meeting was cancelled because demonstrators occupied roads near the Legislative Council and mobbed crowds, violently impacting the police line.

A spokesman for the HKSAR Government pointed out that Hong Kong citizens have the right to express their opinions and freedom of assembly, but the demonstrators should abide by Hong Kongs law and social order, remain calm and restrained, disperse peacefully as soon as possible, and not try the law by example. When illegal acts occur, the police will take appropriate measures to deal with them.

Lu Weicong, Chief Police Officer of the HKSAR Government, said in the afternoon that the police had been taking a restrained and tolerant attitude, but the demonstrators continued to use iron railings and bricks to attack the police line. The police severely condemned the irresponsible behaviour of the mob and took decisive action when forced to control the situation by appropriate force.

The Hong Kong police reiterated that disruption of public order and security must not be tolerated. The police will resolutely enforce the law, restore social order and ensure public safety.

The Major League for Justice Preservation held a press conference on the same day, strongly condemning the illegal occupation of roads, traffic congestion and violence against the Legislative Council by Jinzhong demonstrators.

Huang Yinghao, convenor of the Major League, said that the regulations would be fully discussed and fully supported police law enforcement. Tan Huizhu, deputy to the former Hong Kong Peoples Congress, said that the demonstrators did not express their wishes rationally, but used violent shocks to strike both the rule of law and the economy in Hong Kong.

Source: responsible editor of Xinhua News Agency: Li Wan_B11284