Extradition bill is dead, says HK leader Carrie Lam
Hong Kong, July 9 (IANS) Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday declared that the highly controversial extradition bill that sparked several mass protests was "dead", changing from an earlier claim that it "will die" in 2020.
However, whether it was effectively withdrawn, as demanded by protesters, remained unclear, reports the South China Morning Post.
Lam also stood firm on not setting up a top-level probe into clashes between police and protesters.
"There are still lingering doubts about the government’s sincerity or worries (about) whether the government will restart the process with the Legislative Council," Lam said during a press conference here.
"So I reiterate here: there is no such plan. The bill is dead."
The Chief Executive added that she was "willing to engage in an open dialogue with students without any preconditions".
Last week, a group of Hong Kong student leaders rejected Lam’s offer of a private meeting about the recent protests over the bill, which would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to mainland China and other jurisdictions with which the city had no extradition agreement, calling it "too little, too late", the South China Morning Post reported.
The government’s offer came after hundreds of mostly young protesters stormed the city’s legislature on the night of July 1, writing slogans on the wall, defacing Hong Kong’s official emblem and smashing equipment, furniture and work areas.
Protesters have been urging the government to respond to other demands: withdraw the bill completely, retract all references to the protest on June 12 as a riot; set up a commission of inquiry to examine police use of force; and launch democratic reforms.
Lam admitted that the public’s trust in the government was fragile.
Tuesday marks exactly a month since the first mass protest against the bill brought an estimated 1 million people onto the streets on June 9, followed by about 2 million the following weekend.