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The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region"s decision to suspend legislation on proposed amendments to the city"s extradition laws received wide support and understanding from various sectors, as it is believed this move will help allay social disputes and ensure the city"s long-term stability and prosperity.
On Saturday, the region"s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced the decision to restore calm and order in society after concerns, doubts and even conflicts were seen over the amendments.
The suspension would allow the government to further communication with all sectors of society, better explain the proposed legislation and listen to different views on the matter, Lam said.
The decision received support from central government bodies including the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, the Foreign Ministry and the Liaison Office of the Central People"s Government in the HKSAR.
In separate statements issued after the announcement, spokespersons stressed that the central government supports, respects and understands the SAR government"s decision.
Tam Yiu-chung, an HKSAR member of the Standing Committee of the National People"s Congress, said suspending the extradition law legislation is a positive move by the government in response to public sentiment calling for more time for discussion.
By doing so, Lam has shown sincerity, he said. And he hopes the public will understand and support the government"s decision.
Barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who is also a member of the HKSAR"s Executive Council, a top policy advisory body to the SAR"s chief executive, said the government"s decision to suspend the extradition law revision at this point is appropriate.
The suspension could avoid more violence that would further divide the city and in the meantime, give more time for public discussion of the legislation. These consensus-building efforts may boost the chances of having the legislation passed, he said.
In response to public processions regarding the legislation on the past two Sundays, an unnamed spokesperson with the SAR government said in a statement late on Sunday that Lam clearly heard the views that were expressed in a peaceful and rational manner.
The government reiterated that there was no time frame set for restarting the legislation, the statement said.
The chief executive admitted that deficiencies in the government"s work led to substantial controversies and disputes in society, causing disappointment and grief among the people, and Lam apologized to the people of Hong Kong for this, the statement added.
Lam vowed to be humble and sincere in accepting public criticism and to make improvements in serving the public of Hong Kong, it said.
The decision to suspend also received backing from Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, one of Hong Kong"s most influential business associations.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Choi said the suspension would help alleviate the tense atmosphere in society and restart rational discussion. He pointed out that amid the complicated and ever-changing international situation, different sectors should join hands in maintaining society"s harmony and stability while focusing on economic development and improving people"s livelihoods.
The Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong — the city"s largest political party representing the business sector — also expressed support and understanding for the SAR government"s decision. The alliance said it hopes the government will thoroughly explain the bill to different sectors and listen to their opinions. It also urged communities not to use violent or radical means to express views.
The proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance were scheduled to be discussed at a full Legislative Council meeting for a second reading on Wednesday.
The meeting had to be canceled after a protest against the amendments brought the city"s main administrative and business areas to a standstill. If passed, the amendments will enable the HKSAR to surrender fugitive offenders on a case-by-case basis to jurisdictions that currently have no long-term agreements with Hong Kong, including the Chinese mainland, Macao and Taiwan.
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