HONG KONG – More than 770,000 people have shown their support to the government’s plan to amend the city’s extradition laws, according to an initial count of a city-wide signature campaign released on Sunday.
The number came on the same day when at least tens of thousands of people joined a public procession in the city to oppose the proposed bill.
The HKSAR government of the special administrative region should stay firm in carrying forward the bill in the face of public support.
Stanley Ng Chau-pei, Hong Kong deputy to National People’s Congress
The ongoing signature campaign, conducted online and at street stands, was launched on April 16 by an alliance formed by over 30 local political, business and legal dignitaries in support of the proposed amendments.
By 6:40 pm on Sunday, 770,056 people had signed up, backing the government’s move to revise the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance in Hong Kong.
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The city has agreements on reciprocal transfers of fugitives with 20 other jurisdictions, which do not include Taiwan, Macao and the Chinese mainland. The revision would allow Hong Kong to surrender fugitives on a case-by-case basis to jurisdictions that it doesn’t have long-term agreement with.
Member of the alliance, Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature, said the number of signatures collected so far shows that mainstream public opinion in support of amending the extradition laws to plug relevant legal loopholes and safeguard public security in the city.
Ng, who’s also president of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, the city's largest labor group, said the government of the special administrative region should stay firm in carrying forward the bill in the face of public support.
He urged opposition lawmakers to stop politicizing and demonizing the bill, stressing that it was intolerable for them to invite foreign interference into internal affairs of HKSAR as well as the country.
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The alliance submitted the latest results of the campaign to Under Secretary for Security Sonny Au Chi-kwong.
Lawmakers are set to resume the second reading of the bill in the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday.
Solicitor Kennedy Wong Ying-ho — the convener and spokesman for the alliance — said the alliance will go to the LegCo that day to support the bill, and expressed his hope that the legislature could pass the bill to improve Hong Kong’s extradition arrangements.
Wong, who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference — the nation’s top political advisory body — noted that the alliance has distributed hundreds of thousands of flyers to help strengthen the public’s understanding of the amendments.
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