Letter To Hong Kong

Letter To Hong Kong

Type:AudioLanguage:EnglishCategories:Current AffairsStatus:On going Description:                                                                
Leaders from Hong Kong's political parties and government departments take their turn to have their say.

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Legislator Kwok Ka-ki 00:09:03 2019-05-19
Dear Chi Ho,

The recent mayhem at LegCo has ushered in the worst time since I became a Hong Kong legislator in 2004. Chief Executive Carrie Lam sent the Fugitive Bills to LegCo after a mere three-week consultation. The issue of transfer of fugitives to China has been a No-Go zone for more than 21 years mainly because we need to build a firewall between the legal systems of Hong Kong and the Mainland to preserve “one country, two systems”.

The move arose from a murder case in Taiwan a year ago, the “Chan Tong Kai“ case. In order to send Chan to Taiwan for trial of murder, Carrie Lam’s administration -- together with the pro-Beijing political party -- pushed forward the bill as an urgent matter as Chan may be released from custody at the end of April.

In the beginning, this argument was accepted by the people of Hong Kong. As more facts became evident, people thought otherwise. One of the most important was the statement made by the Mainland Affairs Committee of Taiwan Government. Taiwan had made repeated attempts since last year to communicate with the HKSAR government on the murder case but received no reply. When the Taiwanese government was asked whether they would accept the new amendment bill, the response was simply “no”. The reason was simple. Under this amendment, Taiwan will be considered part of China in order for the transfer of fugitives to take place. This will put Taiwan in a very difficult situation. Throughout the years, Hong Kong and Taiwan had enjoyed rather good relationship -- particularly in bilateral economic exchange and tourism -- without getting involved in the conflict between the Mainland and Taiwan.

To allow fugitives in Hong Kong to be sent to Mainland China is to open a Pandora’s Box. Although the amendment bill appeared to address the issue of extradition of the murder suspect to Taiwan, the people of Hong Kong realize that the move will make easier future extradition of Hong Kong citizens and even foreigners to China.

Mainland China’s legal system is considered one of the worst in the world. Political prosecution, forced admittance in front of television cameras, denial of the right to hire one’s lawyer or forcible acceptance of lawyers instructed by the authority are still common practice on the Mainland that we in Hong Kong cannot accept. Once the bill is passed, people of Hong Kong as well as any citizen of any countries will be subjected to the political prosecution and sentencing of the law courts of Mainland China. According to the world ranking of “Rule of Law” by the World Justice Project, Hong Kong placed 16th and China placed 82th amongst 126 countries. The rule of law is literally absent in China. The system of law court is under the full control of the Chinese Communist Party. The people of Hong Kong will never willingly accept this proposal to subject Hong Kong people to the law courts of Mainland China.

The issue of extradition to China had been discussed even before the 1997 handover but the issue was shelved in order to maintain the confidence of the people of Hong Kong as well as any foreigners who live and work here. The saga of Huawei has told the world that to work and live in China may not be safe as anyone can become victims of political prosecution. Yet this bill will subject us in Hong Kong to possible extradition and trial in China. It will be the worst-ever impact on the rule of law in Hong Kong. The “One Country Two Systems”, designed by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and stipulated in the Basic Law, is the foundation of the Hong Kong SAR. The people of Hong Kong and foreigners have the confidence of staying and working here because they believe in “One Country Two Systems” -- or the firewall of Hong Kong. Now Carrie Lam is going to tear down this firewall. The end result will be detrimental to the future of Hong Kong. People are puzzled about the motives of the amendment. Has Carrie Lam initiated this in order to please her Chinese bosses and to secure her second term as Hong Kong Chief Executive? Or is it a move by the Chinese Communist Party to destroy the firewall and to switch to “One Country, One System”? Can we still trust the Chinese Communists and their promise of preserving Hong Kong’s status quo for 50 years? Will Hong Kong’s systems and core values last till 2047 or even next year?

The change will certainly jeopardize Hong Kong’s position as one of the best cities in Asia to do business. Foreign business associations -- including the American Chamber of Commerce and International Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong; consulates in Hong Kong – including the British Consulate, the US Consulate and the representative of the European Union – have all shown deep concern about the new bill and urge the SAR government to reconsider the implication of the enactment of the bill. Even political parties that are traditionally supporters of the Chinese and SAR governments -- like the Liberal Party, Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong and the Roundtable of Michael Tien -- warned that the bill will have severe impact on the commercial sector in Hong Kong.

Foreign countries that have strong economic ties with Hong Kong, like the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of US Congress had expressed concerns and worried that the extradition bill would pose risk to US national security and economic interests. In a report, the Commission stated that the bill would increase Hong Kong’s susceptibility to Beijing’s weak legal system and political coercion, leading to further erosion of city’s autonomy. This truly reflects the sentiment. It is crucial for Hong Kong to maintain independent trade status. Any change of this status will pose an unprecedented impact and stifle our economy.

The very big turnout at the anti-extradition rally on 28th April reflected the extent of people’s concern and anger. Many pro-Beijing businessmen have openly criticized the government’s intention and warned against the passing of the bill. That was a bit strange as these people have always been on the side of the SAR and Beijing governments on many issues including the constitutional reform or even Article 23. The business circle of Hong Kong shared their concern.

Chiu Chui-Cheng, Deputy Minister of the Taiwan’s Mainland Affair Council said earlier that they could arrange for necessary procedure to handover Chan Tong Kai to Taiwan without the proposed extradition bill. To force through the passing of the bill will take away the foundation for talks with Taiwan in arrangement for the transfer of Chan, hence nullify the SAR Government’s claim that the bill was required for the transfer. The passing of the bill not only will not help but actually force Taiwan to halt any meaningful dialogue. The move made by the HK government was absurd and meaningless.

The response made by Carrie Lam in LegCo recently did not help. Her arrogant speech and points made during the Question and Answer session actually made thing worse. Her claims that all opinion against the passing of the amendment was “trash talk” clearly stirred up the emotion of the city, particularly many of the Hong Kong people who did not trust the legal system of Mainland. The turnout at the recent rally was a clear sign that people was very angry about the speech made by Carrie Lam. They realize that the government is not listening, and is prepared to force through the legislation despite strong opposition.

When she took up her terms as Chief Executive in 2017, Carrie Lam said openly that she would not actively revisit the issue of constitutional reform or Article 23 for fear of further splitting the society and deterioration of the Sino-HK relationship. Perhaps she is already calculating her chance of getting a second term, that no former Chief Executive was able to attain?

I vividly remember the prediction made by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten before 1997 that Hong Kong would be destroyed not by other people but by the people here. Beijing will undoubtedly do whatever it takes to integrate Hong Kong into her systems. It will be up to us who are born and bred here to defend our core values and systems and to hold China to her promises! As this duel between One country and Two systems is looming, each of us has to take a stand! There is no escape unless you flee! I will take a stand for Hong Kong and two systems and urge you to do so!