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CE announces formal withdrawal of extradition bill

2019-09-04 HKT 18:05
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  • CE announces formal withdrawal of extradition bill
Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday finally announced the formal withdrawal of the extradition law bill that has sparked months of unrest in the territory and the worst political crisis since the handover.

While the move meets one of the five key demands of anti-government protesters, there were immediate calls online for fresh protest action to demonstrate their rejection of the single concession.

Video recordings of Lam announcing the withdrawal were released in both Cantonese and English shortly after she held a meeting at Government House attended by top officials, pro-Beijing lawmakers and members of the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Lam said that once the Legislative Council resumes, Security Secretary John Lee will move a motion to formally withdraw the contentious bill "in order to fully allay public concerns".

She said there were three other measures being taken by the government, including "fully supporting" the work of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) as it carries out a probe into the police's handling of the ongoing protests, and that two new members are being appointed to the watchdog, namely former government official Helen Yu and Senior Counsel Paul Lam.

"I pledge that the government will seriously follow up the recommendations in the IPCC's report," said Lam.

The CE said from this month, she and her principal officials will start holding dialogue with people from all walks of life to "find ways to address the discontent in society and look for solutions".

The fourth measure, Lam said, would be to invite community leaders, professionals and academics to "independently examine and review society's deep-seated problems and to advise the government on finding solutions".

She added that it's clear the extradition bill is not the extent of people's unhappiness.

"It covers political, economic and social issues, including the oft-mentioned problems relating to housing and land supply, income distribution, social justice and mobility, and opportunities for our young people, as well as how the public could be fully engaged in the government's decision-making. We can discuss all these issues in our new dialogue platform."

Anti-government protesters, who have taken to the streets in their hundreds of thousands since early June, have repeatedly insisted that all five demands must be met "and not one less", with the calls including an inquiry into alleged police brutality and an amnesty for all those arrested during protest clashes.

Immediately following Lam's announcement, users of the Telegram app began calling for a protest on Wednesday night outside Legco.

Kex Leung, president of the Education University's student union, who has been taking part in the protests, said the campaign will not end until all the demands are met.

"I don't think this social movement will end in an instant. I don't think she [Carrie Lam] chose a good timing to announce such a withdrawal because it's come too little too late," Leung said.

The convenor of the council's pro-democracy camp, Claudia Mo, said the damage caused by Lam failing to act sooner means the latest gesture was not enough.

"The scars are still bleeding. She can't think she can just ... withdraw [the bill] and appease the entire society. The whole thing has come too little too late," Mo said.