A CONTROVERSIAL extradition bill that sparked months of demonstrations in Hong Kong is to be withdrawn, the territory’s chief executive Carrie Lam announced yesterday.
The bill, which would have allowed residents to be sent to mainland China for trial, has sparked mass protests since June, leading to violent clashes with police and causing the airport to shut down earlier this month.
In a recorded TV message, Ms Lam said: ‘The government will formally withdraw the bill in order to fully allay public concerns.’
But she did not accept other demands, which include an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality and the release of 1,100 detained protesters.
Instead, Ms Lam appointed two new members to a police watchdog. ‘Our foremost priority now is to end violence, to safeguard the rule of law and to restore order and safety in society.
‘As such, the government has to strictly enforce the law against all violent and illegal acts,’ she added.
Ms Lam said her government would speak to protest groups to ‘address the discontent in society’ and invite community leaders, professionals and academics to find solutions.
But pro-Beijing politician Michael Tien said pulling the bill was ‘too little, too late’. He added: ‘The focus now has completely shifted. Most people do not remember what the bill is about but are more concerned about the escalating violence and alleged police heavy-handedness against protesters.’
China has said it would ‘not sit idly by’ if the situation worsened.