HONG KONG - The government’s decision to proceed with amendments to the extradition law by removing nine less-serious commercial offenses from the proposed changes is to be welcomed, says Chief Executive Officer of the Chinese Manufacturers Association of Hong Kong Raymond Young Lap-moon.
The withdrawal of nine offenses has largely eased the concerns of Hong Kong manufacturers
Raymond Young Lap-moon,
Chief Executive Officer,
Chinese Manufacturers Association of Hong Kong
Such a move will close existing loopholes in the legislation and uphold justice, he said.
“The withdrawal of nine offenses has largely eased the concerns of Hong Kong manufacturers. At first, they feared they might inadvertently break the law because they do not know the mainland legal system well enough, or could be framed by other people.”
The original amendment proposal unveiled by the government last month covered a total of 46 offenses.
The government had earlier collected extensive public views. Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu had visited the CMA’s head office on March 20 to listen to the concerns of manufacturers -- one of the most active groups doing business on the Chinese mainland.
“At the meeting, we discussed the 46 offenses in detail and urged him to remove some of them from the proposed amendments. It’s not because we have no confidence in the mainland’s judicial system, we just worry that we might, unknowingly, commit an offense with no criminal intent,” said Young.
According to Young, CMA President Dennis Ng Wang-pun was “strikingly close” as he had told the media after the meeting that Lee would consider removing eight to 10 offenses from the list.
But, it’s still possible that the nine offenses to be removed could be reinstated in future, Young quoted Lee as saying.
The Security Bureau subsequently withdrew nine commercial offenses from the list, including those relating to bankruptcy, environmental protection, intellectual property rights and accessing the computer with criminal or dishonest intent.
It also raised the threshold for extradition, explaining that only offenses subject to three or longer years of imprisonment, instead of one year as proposed earlier, would be subject to extradition. Serious offenses relating to corruption are retained.
Young does not think the withdrawals mean that the government is bending to the business sector.
“The government is not favouring businesspeople because others people, apart from businessmen, may also commit offenses concerning money exchange and accessing the computer with criminal or dishonest intent,” he said.
Young thought the government has been swift in adjusting its stance because it aims to introduce the bill in the Legislative Council on Wednesday and get it passed before the summer break in July this year.
The proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance are sparked by a murder case in Taiwan in March last year.
A Hong Kong resident had gone to Taiwan with his girlfriend on holiday, but he returned to Hong Kong after his companion was murdered on the island.
Hong Kong police could not charge him with murder, but could only detain him for suspected theft and money laundering.
It’s against this backdrop that the special administrative region government proposed amending the said ordinances to include the Chinese mainland, Macao and Taiwan, as well as other jurisdictions, in extraditing fugitives.
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