Hong Kong government withdraws controversial extradition bill

23 October 2019, 08:20

Hong Kong has withdrawn the controversial extradition bill that sparked protests
Hong Kong has withdrawn the controversial extradition bill that sparked protests. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The government of Hong Kong has withdrawn a controversial extradition bill which sparked national protests.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters had demonstrated against the bill since June, including over a million people taking to the streets on 9 June.

It was suspended by chief executive Carrie Lam in June, and the leader promised to withdraw it once the legislature returned from summer recess.

It was supposed to be withdrawn last week but the process was delayed because of further demonstrations.

The bill's second reading resumed on Wednesday afternoon, when Secretary for Security John Lee requested it was withdrawn.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference. Picture: PA

According to the Hong Kong Free Press, as he withdrew the bill, Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui asked Mr Lee if he would resign, but he said he had nothing to add.

The controversial bill would have allowed the extradition of suspects to mainland China.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had proposed the amendment to resolve a case involving a man wanted for murder in Taiwan who could not be sent to the self-ruled island because there was no extradition agreement in place.

But the proposal stoked widespread fears residents would be put at risk of being sent into China's Communist Party-controlled judicial system, and Lam was forced to drop the bill in the face of fierce opposition.

The crisis has snowballed into demands for universal suffrage and an investigation into police tactics.

The news came as the murder suspect whose case indirectly led to the protests, Chan Tong-kai, was freed from prison on Wednesday.

Chan told reporters he was willing to surrender to authorities in Taiwan, where he is wanted for killing his girlfriend.

He was released after serving a separate sentence for money laundering offences.

"I am willing, for my impulsive actions and things I did wrong, to surrender myself, to return to Taiwan to face sentencing and stand trial," he said.

He bowed deeply twice to the media scrum waiting outside the prison, thanked his parents for their support, apologised to the victim's family and the people of Hong Kong, then got into a waiting van.

This story is being updated