Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng and Security Secretary John Lee heeded calls to make more of an effort to ease people's concerns about planned new extradition laws by holding a lengthy media briefing on Tuesday, but ruled out any changes whatsoever to the administration's own proposals.
The pair dismissed various suggestions from critics one after another as being impractical, including allowing local courts to try Hong Kong suspects for serious crimes committed abroad, or ruling out extraditions for offences committed in the past.
Cheng said such ideas would not only be problematic, but would involve fundamental changes to the city's common law system.
She added that they would also mean that the authorities could not deal with the case of a Hong Kong woman murdered in Taiwan last year, allegedly by her Hong Kong boyfriend who is now back in the SAR.
"You will actually be creating a situation whereby the criminal law jurisdiction is now extended to an offence that did not exist at the time of the legislation," Cheng said.
The minister also dismissed a proposal from another legal scholar, Johannes Chan, that the SAR should refuse to surrender wanted people to places where their human rights could not be guaranteed.
Asked by reporters whether the Hong Kong government would be prepared to reject any extradition request from the mainland, Cheng reiterated that there will be a system in place to ensure that the rights of wanted people are protected.
Lee, meanwhile, was asked why the government couldn't first deal solely with the Taiwan murder, given the fierce resistance to the proposed legal amendments from many sectors of society. He replied that the government's current proposals were the best it could come up with.
The government points out that Hong Kong courts will be asked to sign-off on any extradition deals made on a case-by-case basis under the proposed new legislation.
But critics argue that the SAR will be in no position to refuse requests made by mainland authorities and should not be put in the invidious position of having to pass judgement on the trustworthiness of the mainland's judicial system.