Hong Kong extradition bill: Protesters vow to push ahead
Sunday - 16/06/2019 00:56
Protesters in Hong Kong have vowed to push ahead with a rally on Sunday, despite the government's decision to suspend its controversial bill to allow extradition to mainland China.
Protest leaders urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign and permanently scrap the plan.
The proposed bill led to mass demonstrations and sparked some of the worst violence seen in years.
Protesters are concerned at increased influence by Beijing in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a former British colony, but was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy.Jimmy Sham, from protest group the Civil Human Rights Front, said Sunday's rally would go ahead as planned, likening the announced suspension to a "knife" that had been plunged into the city.
"It's almost reached our heart. Now the government said they won't push it, but they also refuse to pull it out," he said.
Ms Lam said she had heard the calls for her government to "pause and think".
"I feel deep sorrow and regret that deficiencies in our work – and various other factors – have stirred up substantial controversies," she added.
She said that the urgency felt to pass the bill before the legislative year ends "perhaps no longer exists".
But she stopped short of saying the bill would be permanently shelved.
The government had argued the proposed extradition bill would "plug the loopholes" so that the city would not be a safe haven for criminals, following a murder case in Taiwan.
Critics have said the legislation would expose people in Hong Kong to China's deeply flawed justice system and lead to further erosion of the city's judicial independence.
Analysis by Helier Cheung, BBC News, Hong Kong
It was a striking U-turn from a leader who previously struck a defiant tone.
Mere days ago, Ms Lam had vowed to press ahead with the unpopular legislation – now she has promised to "listen to different views from society".
But for many protesters, the damage has already been done, and the move to delay - but not cancel - the legislation is unlikely to assuage their concerns.
One protester told me he believed the government was "trying to divert attention away until opposition calms down - and then they'll try to re-do the whole process again".
Others said they would still take part in a march against the proposal planned for Sunday.
"Our final goal is to cancel the law, not to pause it. I think there will still be many people coming out tomorrow," a student leader told me.
China's foreign ministry publicly backed Ms Lam after her announcement.