The convenor of the pan-democratic camp in Legco, Claudia Mo, has warned that the government's concessions on its plans to change extradition law fail to get to the crux of the public's concerns, and risk further alienating Hongkongers.
She was speaking after Secretary for Security John Lee announced a series of measures intended to ease concern about changes to the Fugitive Offencers Ordinance, including limiting the changes to more serious crimes and allowing only central authorities to request extradition to the mainland.
Mo pointed to the fact that the concessions echoed requests by members of the pro-Beijing camp in Legco, and said: "It's a farce. It's so obvious that the government and the Beijing stooges in this legislature are colluding with each other.
"This government disregards completely what the Bar has to say, what some law scholars would suggest and so on. But when the Beijing loyalists suggest – allegedly – these supposed proposals, the government will agree within hours. I mean, really. Give me a break."
Lee earlier announced that the legislation would now only apply to crimes with a maximum sentence of seven years in prison rather than three. That takes offences including child pornography, underage sex and criminal intimidation out of its scope.
The government will also only entertain extradition requests from the mainland's top prosecutorial organ in Beijing, rather than provincial authorities. Lee also promised to work on additional safeguards, including seeking promises of a fair trial.
Four major business chambers welcomed the concessions. In a joint statement, the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries and the Hong Kong Chinese Importers' & Exporters' Association urged Legco to begin deliberations on the bill as soon as possible.
The government is proposing to give the chief executive the power to initiate extradition proceedings to any jurisdiction, including those with which Hong Kong does not have a formal arrangement.
Supporters say the change closes a legal loophole, while critics say it will expose Hong Kong people to unfair trials and rights abuses on the mainland.