One cannot but admire the strategic, concerted and coordinated approach the normally mishmash of opposition voices in Hong Kong had demonstrated this time in smearing and causing trouble to the SAR and central governments. It seems there is a master puppeteer orchestrating behind the scene the entire operation and once an order is made, all constituent parts would spring into action at the same time.
One case in point is the co-location customs arrangement for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link terminus in West Kowloon. We saw how the political parties, the Bar Association and the so-called academic groups shouting daily from their dominated media, including RTHK, and at the same time going overseas to seek Western support. They even abused the judicial process by deploying a poor citizen to seek legal aid to go for judicial review. They used scaremongering tactics and I still recall vividly opposition politician Senior Counsel Alan Leong Kah-kit warning citizens not to walk near the West Kowloon Terminus for fear that they could be kidnapped by Chinese national security agents and spirited to the mainland through the express train! Now we can all see that nothing of this sort or any abuse of the co-location arrangement has happened after all these months of operations.
Her (Anson Chan’s) bitter disappointment at not being appointed the Hong Kong SAR’s first chief executive led her to turn against both the central and SAR governments. In so doing, she only manages to destroy her own reputation
Hence the public should be wary now that they are once again trying to incite a mass hysteria using the same tactic with the proposed amendments to the fugitive rendition law. The whole purpose of the amendments is to address the loophole highlighted by a recent murder case in Taiwan where the alleged murderer is now in Hong Kong escaping justice.Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu has revealed that there are at least three similar murder cases and if this loophole is not plugged, Hong Kong can become an international haven not just for ordinary fugitives, but we can have murderers, kidnappers and rapists walking freely on our streets! Hence the proposed amendments make perfect sense to apply not just to the Taiwan case, but to all other cases involving jurisdictions with which we have yet to have formal extradition arrangements, in order to ensure our city is safe.
Yet the opposition coalition saw it fit to single out the mainland element and again employing their usual scaremongering tactics. A university professor is reported to have said in an RTHK talk show that if any Hong Kong citizen made a criticism of the Chinese mainland on the social media, he would be extradited to the mainland for trial under the proposed amendments and jailed. I’m both shocked and saddened by such ignorance.At least he ought to know that extradition requires “double criminalities”, i.e. the act must be an offense under the statutes of both jurisdictions. Surely any Hong Kong citizen criticizing the mainland on social media is not regarded as an offense in Hong Kong. Secondly, any person suspected of having committed an offense of a political nature cannot be extradited and thirdly the offense must be serious and no judge in Hong Kong would rule such act as a serious criminal offense. Furthermore, the whole extradition proceeding would be under the comprehensive safeguards of our judicial system, including the right to appeal and right for judicial review. So such a threat can only be described as scaremongering and nothing more.
The government’s most recent amendment to delete some relatively less serious economic crimes from the extraditable offenses list and to stipulate that only offenses which merit three years imprisonment and above are extraditable, should help to reconfirm the objective of the rendition agreement is only to focus on the really serious offenses.
I then heard another politician saying that the mainland can use the excuse of a serious traffic offense to request extradition and once the person is on the mainland, he will be charged with the additional offenses that might be subject to capital punishment. Such statement again reflects the ignorance of international fugitive law, as it is a basic principle that the person extradited cannot be sentenced to death nor be charged with additional offenses. The Peter Godber case is a case in point. He was investigated for a Section 10 offense, in possession of excessive assets, but he was only successfully extradited from England on a simple bribery offense. And when he returned to Hong Kong, he was only subject to the prosecution of the simple bribery offense.
Part of the opposition strategy on this battle is to have former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang leading a team to the United States to lobby support for opposition to the amendment. She tried to scare her American hosts into thinking that their citizens in Hong Kong risk being extradited to the mainland for trivial offenses and she alleged because of the “inadequacy” of the mainland judicial system, defendants could not receive a fair trial there. What she should know is that in recent years, the US had agreed to return several fugitives to the mainland for trial. Out of the 100 most wanted Interpol Red Notice criminals issued by the Chinese government, 59 have been returned, with the No 1 target from the US and the latest from New Zealand. If the mainland judicial system is so inadequate, why would these “human rights conscious” countries agree to return the fugitives to China?
What is of particular significance is that the former chief secretary was invited to the US by the National Security Council, responsible for national security and the working of the Central Intelligence Agency. Imagine if a US citizen is invited to Beijing to meet with the Chinese Ministry of State Security, he would surely be detained and interrogated, if nothing worse, upon his return to US!
The US media should be told that the former chief secretary has lost her credibility in Hong Kong. She swore allegiance to the central government when she took the oath as chief secretary on July 1, 1997 and the moment she stepped down from the post after being told that she would not be supported to become the chief executive, she broke her solemn oath and became a vengeful anti-China critic. Chan also lost her integrity when it was revealed by the media that she received secret donations of HK$3.5 million from Lai Chee-ying, the owner of Apple Daily, without any public declaration, despite the fact that she is still receiving a handsome monthly pension from the SAR government. Hardly anyone in Hong Kong listens to her anymore. When she was invited to a seminar at the Hong Kong University, only one student turned up! It seems that her remaining stage with an attentive audience is in the US and UK government. This is really sad for a former top civil servant who once commanded local respect. Her bitter disappointment at not being appointed the Hong Kong SAR’s first chief executive led her to turn against both the central and SAR governments. In so doing, she only manages to destroy her own reputation.
The author is an honorary fellow and adjunct professor at HKU SPACE and council member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.
HONG KONG NEWS