A Bar Association committee member on Tuesday poured cold water on a suggestion by former police chief Andy Tsang that proposed changes to extradition laws could be done in two stages so that economic crimes can initially be excluded.
Tsang, who is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, put forward the proposal after business leaders and pro-establishment lawmakers raised concerns about Hong Kong business people being surrendered to the mainland to face trial over white-collar crimes.
The former police commissioner said the move to allow extraditions on a case-by-case basis could only cover violent offences at first, and economic crimes could be added later after a thorough public discussion.
His suggestion has been welcomed by the business sector. But Bar Association member Randy Shek said while it may appear attractive on the surface, such a two-stage process would in fact be very problematic.
"If the suggestion actually goes to taking out all these commercial crimes from the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, then the knock-on effect would be that all those other countries that have a long-term [extradition] arrangement with Hong Kong will need to revisit their arrangements," Shek told RTHK's Janice Wong.
"There are a lot of very serious crimes that do not involve violence, for example, the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars, money laundering or conspiracy to defraud. These type of offences are no less serious."
Shek also questioned why people accused of economic crimes on the mainland or abroad should be able to escape the possibility of an extradition if those suspected of other offences could not.