ong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has long maintained that a murder case last year where a Hong Kong man killed his girlfriend in Taiwan before escaping back home was the real impetus behind the amendments that she was proposing to the city’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.
The grisly details of the murder, which rocked both Hong Kong and Taiwan, exposed the loopholes in Hong Kong’s legal system, which offered no mechanism by which the city could legally transfer criminal suspects to the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Macau. And now was the time to plug those gaps if Hong Kong wasn’t going to become a refuge place for fugitives on the run, so the argument went.
In her announcement on the suspension of the proposed amendments on Saturday afternoon, Lam said that because of the “overt and clear expression by Taiwan repeatedly that it will not accede to the suggested arrangement of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government in the transfer of the concerned suspect, the original urgency to pass the bill in this legislative year is no longer there.”
Skeptical Taiwanese reporters at the press conference observed that none of their co-workers were being picked to ask questions. And it was not until one angry reporter loudly pointed this out to the room did the chief executive take one question from a Taiwanese reporter.
A few hours after the media conference,, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice issued an angry statement which included more than a few harsh words to rebut Lam’s assertion.
4 key takeaways from the statement:
1. The proposed amendments extend past Taiwan-Hong Kong cooperation
“The proposed amendments go way past what would otherwise be a simple cooperation between Taiwan and Hong Kong and mutual assistance in judicial affairs in specific cases as well as the transfer of fugitives. We absolutely cannot participate in any transfer of fugitives with Hong Kong on the basis of the proposed amendments.”
2. Excuses, obfuscation and a dereliction of duty
“Today the Hong Kong government used Taiwan’s unwillingness to accede to the proposed amendments as an excuse to suspend the bill. This was an attempt to obfuscate the real human rights concerns that people have with respect to the bill, and a complete misrepresentation of Taiwan’s position on specific cases. The Ministry of Justice condemns this passing the buck and dereliction of duty in the harshest terms.”
3. Hong Kong has refused to work with Taiwan all this time
“Because of the absence of a mechanism by which Taiwan and Hong Kong could work to assist each other in judicial affairs, both sides have been unable to work together in cracking down on cross-border crime. Hong Kong has consistently not answered Taiwan’s multiple requests for assistance in investigation and the collection of evidence. The murder of the Hong Kong woman aroused great concern among members of the public both in Hong Kong and Taiwan and there was a great yearning for the murderer to be brought to justice. However, that was not to be as Hong Kong continually rebuffed all of Taiwan’s request for assistance.”
4. Any cooperation must be on the basis of equality, dignity and human rights
“This ministry affirms that the establishment of a cooperation mechanism with any other legal jurisdiction has to be on the basis of the protection of human rights, equality, dignity and mutal assistance. If any of the afore-mentioned conditions are not met and the will of the people disrespected, no judicial cooperation is possible.”