Monday 14 October 2019

Hong Kong leader suspends controversial extradition bill indefinitely

Carrie Lam speaks at a news conference in Hong Kong
REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Carrie Lam speaks at a news conference in Hong Kong REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Elaine Kurtenbach and Christopher Bodeen

HONG Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam has said she will suspend a proposed extradition bill indefinitely.

Ms Lam said in a press conference that she took the decision in response to widespread public unhappiness over the measure, which would enable authorities to send some suspects to stand trial in mainland China.

Many in the former British colony worried that the move would further erode cherished legal protections and freedoms promised by Beijing when it took control in 1997.

A mass protest over the issue had been planned for Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the streets in demonstrations earlier this week. Protests turned violent on Wednesday, adding to pressure on Ms Lam to back down.

Ms Lam said the government would study the matter further.

She said: "After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise.

"I want to stress that the government is adopting an open mind. We have no intention to set a deadline for this work."

Ms Lam said she would "adopt a sincere and humble attitude in accepting criticism" over the government's handling of the issue.

She had previously refused to withdraw the bill, and many protesters have demanded her resignation.

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