Acrimony ends panel meeting on extradition laws - RTHK
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Acrimony ends panel meeting on extradition laws

2019-04-17 HKT 11:28
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  • The packed vetting committee saw wordy duels between members from the very start. Photo: RTHK
    The packed vetting committee saw wordy duels between members from the very start. Photo: RTHK
Candice Wong reports
The first meeting of the bills committee that is vetting the controversial extradition legislation amendments ended without even electing a chairman for the panel on Wednesday, amid bickering and arguments over procedures.

As expected, pan-democratic lawmakers resorted to delaying tactics and objections to slow down the progress, infuriating their rivals. Councillors from both sides were locked in various arguments for two hours before the meeting was adjourned.

The meeting started with senior lawmaker and Democratic Party member James To presiding. He began by reading the names of every one of the 62 lawmakers who had joined the panel, raising ire among pro-government legislators.

Some opposition lawmakers then objected, saying some names were not being read out correctly, and this led to more verbal duels between the two sides.

The convenor of the pan-democratic camp, Claudia Mo, then raised an objection that the meeting was arranged in haste and demanded a discussion on the matter.

Ray Chan from People Power also wanted To to let members express their views one-by-one on the meeting arrangements.

This again descended into wordy battles with Regina Ip from the New People's Party criticising To's "inefficiency".

Kwok Wai-keung from the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) told To: "Don't pretend to be rubbish. Respect yourself."

To considered Kwok's remarks offensive, but Kwok refused to retract them. To then demanded that Kwok leave the meeting.

This in turn led to more acrimony. To then adjourned the meeting to seek legal advice and on his return he declared they had run out of time to consider all the points raised and he ended the meeting.

Speaking to the media later, Alice Mak, also from the FTU, accused To of abusing his power.

"James To is not even the chairman of the meeting. He's the presiding member who's presiding [over] the meeting to conduct the election of the chairman and vice-chairman of the committee. We doubt very much whether he has the power to ask a member to leave the meeting," Mak said.

"We sincerely hope that our meeting can go smoothly and efficiently. Don't waste public money. Don't waste people's time," she said.

Pan-democratic lawmakers strongly oppose the planned legal changes, which will allow Hong Kong to surrender fugitives to any jurisdiction in the world, including the mainland, on a case-by-case basis.