Hong Kong’s former secretary for transport and housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung has urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to announce the full withdrawal of the city’s controversial extradition Bill by Tuesday morning (18 Jun), as she is scheduled to chair a weekly meeting of the Executive Council.
Prof Cheung told South China Morning Post in an interview on Mon (17 Jun) that Mrs Lam should also convene a commission of inquiry – with a judge as the arbiter – into the alleged brutal force deployed against the protestors outside the Legislative Council and government headquarters during last Wednesday’s rally.
“The crisis underscores the complete failure of our political system. The central government can no longer expect the problems in Hong Kong to be resolved by focusing on economic and livelihood issues, while avoiding political reform,” Cheung told SCMP.
Civil rights groups such as the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) have urged Hong Kongers to go on strike as a means of pressuring the city’s government to scrap the Bill entirely instead of holding off its tabling as seen last Sat (15 Jun), as such groups and many other dissidents remain apprehensive about the possible reintroduction of the controversial piece of legislation after current tensions have simmered.
CHRF, which organised the protest on Sat, said in a statement the following evening (16 Jun): “Should the government refuse to respond, only more Hong Kongers will strike tomorrow; citizens will take to the street, until their voices are heard.”
The human rights organisation estimated that around two million people turned up at the rally on Sun, while police gave an approximate figure of 338,000 people, according to AFP.
Besides the permanent withdrawal of the Bill, CHRF is also pushing for Mrs Lam’s resignation, which was also called upon by throngs of protestors who wore black last weekend.
Mrs Lam, in the wake of the protests, issued an apology, vowing “to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public”. However, she did not indicate any possibility that the government will consider scrapping the extradition bill altogether.
In announcing the suspension of any debate on the extradition Bill, she told the media on Sat (15 Jun): “After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise, restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more explanation work and listen to different views of society.”
Lam had also defended the firing of tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds against protestors by police during last Wed’s demonstrations, stating that the police’s actions were “reasonable and natural”.