Hong Kong extradition bill 'is dead', Carrie Lam claims
Her resignation, however, is still demanded and further protests are planned in coming weeksEuropost
After weeks of huge Hong Kong demonstrations, that plunged the former British colony into its biggest political crisis in decades, nation’s embattled leader declared the controversial extradition bill that sparked the unrest 'dead'. In a press conference on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam also admitted the government's work on the bill had been a "total failure", making her latest attempt to reduce the political temperature in the semi-autonomous territory.
Yet she stopped short of saying it had been withdrawn completely, as protesters have been demanding.
"But there are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity or worries whether the government will restart the process in the Legislative Council. So I reiterate here, there is no such plan. The bill is dead," Lam told reporters.
Lam's announcement comes at a time when her political fate is far from certain. The huge street protests in Hong Kong have now continued for a month. On Sunday more than 100,000 people took to the streets again. Even the leaders of pro-Beijing political parties have started to question the fitness of Lam's administration, and the ineptitude of her response.
So she has again been forced to back down, and to admit that her government's attempt to pass the extradition bill has been a "complete failure". The question now is will it be enough.
Lam faced tough criticism after insisting that the measure - which called for criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China - would help protect human rights in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Critics, however, could not have been more opposed to the measure and Lam’s theory, claiming that Beijing enforces arbitrary detentions and torture.
Additionally, even though Hong Kong was guaranteed the right to retain its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years under an agreement reached before its 1997 return to China from British rule, China’s ruling Communist Party has been seen as increasingly reneging on that agreement by pushing through unpopular legal changes with the extradition bills being part of these efforts.
In that regard, Lam first said she would suspend the bill in mid-June after confrontations on the streets between police and protesters, but the move failed to mollify critics who took to the streets the very next day calling for her resignation. On July 1, which marks the day when Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, a group of protesters forced their way into the legislative council, ransacking the building and covering the walls with graffiti.