Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Wednesday that Hong Kong is “getting further and further away” from the favourable conditions she hoped to see before introducing controversial national security laws.
"Since I assumed office, I have been trying to create favourable conditions, but we are getting further and further away from these conditions, this is a political reality I have to contend with," said Lam at a Legco question time session.
The CE was responding comments by pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho, who described her as being “elusive” on her pledge to legislate on Article 23 of the Basic Law.
Lam reiterated that the government’s position is that bringing in the legislation is a constitutional duty and an important task to maintain national security.
“But the political reality is making this more difficult,” she said, without elaborating.
The rest of the question time session was dominated by concerns over the government's extradition laws bill.
Wong Kwok-kin, from the Federation of Trade Unions, asked Lam if she would be obliged to hand over any crime suspect sought by Beijing.
In response, Lam said she could not just do whatever she pleased over such matters, because Hong Kong is a society governed by rule of law.
She added that she is not just responsible to the central government, but also the people of Hong Kong.
"If the courts look at the case and there's not enough evidence for extradition, the chief executive cannot extradite the fugitive. I hope I can allay people's concerns here. This system is very sturdy and stable,” said Lam.
She also hit out at Council Front's Au Nok-hin, who accused her of citing interference by "foreign forces" in Hong Kong affairs to cover up the mainland's intervention in the extradition controversy.
Lam said some of the pan-democrats clearly have double standards.
"If the central government says a few words it's intervention, it's damaging to the One Country, Two Systems policy. When some lawmakers go very far away to invite foreigners to step in, it's normal," she said.
"They even teach foreign officials to write open letters to me or call me to stop me from doing something. These actions are treated as though they are normal. I advise lawmakers here to speak and act in the same way," she said.
Before the session began, as Lam arrived at the chamber, pan-democratic lawmakers and their supporters in the public gallery shouted slogans calling for the withdrawal of the extradition bill.
Civic Party legislator Kwok Ka-ki and Roy Kwong from the Democratic Party took part in the shouting and were told by Legco president Andrew Leung to leave the chamber.