The crowd protest before and after police releases tear gas. (Image by Lewis Tse Pui Lung / Shutterstock.com)

Hong Kong govt offices reopen after temporary closure following rally on Sun

A day after closing down its offices in central Hong Kong in the aftermath of a massive protest against the contentious extradition Bill last Sunday, the city’s government has called upon its staff to resume operations today (18 Jun).

“As the roads in the vicinity of the the Central Government Offices (CGO), Tamar have generally become accessible, the CGO will be reopened today (June 18),” the government announced in a press release today.

However, the Executive Council, headed by its embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam, will not be in session for the day, Bloomberg reported. The government also revealed that it will announce plans for Mrs Lam’s media session later.

Concerns were raised over the scope of powers that will be granted upon certain jurisdictions Hong Kong decides to extradite crime suspects to – particularly mainland China – should the amendment bill be passed, as certain factions remain sceptical of Beijing’s capacity to refrain from abusing the extradition arrangements.

Amnesty International warns that the proposed legislation “would extend the ability of the mainland authorities to target critics, human rights activists, journalists, NGO workers and anyone else in Hong Kong”.

Consequently, Mrs Lam’s government, which is strongly backed by Beijing, has drawn flak for its reluctance to completely withdraw the controversial bill, in spite of the overwhelming opposition it has received from protest leaders and at least hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers who had participated in the protests last week.

The protests had led Mrs Lam to apologise for sparking “substantial controversies and disputes in society”, vowing “to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public”.

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”.