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Thursday, May 16, 2019, 00:37
Amendments are legitimate and necessary
By Staff Writer
Thursday, May 16, 2019, 00:37 By Staff Writer

Members of the opposition have the habit of twisting facts to suit their purposes. A case in point is their misleading narrative about why the Chinese mainland was excluded from the list of extradition destinations when the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance was introduced in 1996.

They claimed the mainland was deliberately excluded for the benefit of Hong Kong residents. The fact is: The exclusion was intended to allow the two sides to strike a long-term agreement under the framework of “one country, two systems” to specifically suit the unique relationship of the two sides. The exclusion was never meant to be a permanent arrangement — but only a temporary one.

This is, conceivably, why Wang Zhimin, director of Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, has found the need to set the record straight, by citing Article 95 of the Basic Law during a meeting on Tuesday. 

Article 95 of the Basic Law stipulates that the HKSAR may, “through consultations, and in accordance with law, maintain juridical relations with the judicial organs of other parts of the country, and they may render assistance to each other”.

While the Basic Law came into effect on July 1, 1997 in Hong Kong when the country resumed exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, replacing the Letters Patent and the Royal Instructions, it had been adopted on April 4, 1990 by the Seventh National People’s Congress. 

It is unconvincing that Hong Kong legislators at the time would have chosen to enact a law (the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance) that works against the spirit of the Basic Law by deliberately excluding the mainland from mutual cooperation on fugitive extradition.

The SAR has signed long-term agreements with 20 other jurisdictions on rendition of criminal fugitives and maintains official arrangements for mutual legal assistance with judiciaries in 30 foreign countries and regions. This proves Hong Kong needs such agreements with other jurisdictions to maintain the rule of law and serve justice for the benefit of its own citizens and those of other jurisdictions through mutual legal assistance arrangements. It doesn’t make sense that Hong Kong, as part of China, singles out the mainland and excludes it from the list of extradition destinations. 

As a matter of fact, many Hong Kong residents including legal professionals and scholars agree that Hong Kong must not become a safe haven for criminal fugitives fleeing justice from the mainland, or any other places in the world for that matter. By obstructing the proposed amendments to the rendition laws, the opposition camp is not only obstructing justice but also harming the common interest of Hong Kong people and their mainland compatriots.

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