Snapshots #1:

The June 4th Incident and the 2019 Extradition Bill 



The June 4th Incident of 1989 is regarded as one of the defining moments of recent Chinese history, where student-led demonstrations in Beijing calling for political and economic reform resulted in suppression by military units. Whilst the exact details of the incident remain unclear, what is clear is that the efforts made towards the betterment of their society have not been forgotten. The June 4th incident, and continued calls for justice for the demonstrators, have always been focal points of Hong Kong and CUHKCAS. Though June 4th is an issue of 30 years past, we should bear historical lessons in mind when reflecting on current political events.

It is heartening to see that Hong Kong people have always been actively engaged in political discussion towards political and social issues, especially those regarding the repercussions of Hong Kong and Chinese governmental actions on the integrity of One Country Two Systems. Whilst not exactly related to the June 4th incident, recent heated debates about the proposed Extradition Bill has sparked widespread concern. Will the arrival of the special date of June 4th heat up the debate even more?


Brief Summary of the Bill
Sparked by the recent case of Chan Tong-Kai who is suspected of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, Hong Kong lawmakers have actively called for an amendment bill to enhance special surrender arrangements with Macau, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong currently has surrender arrangements with countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. The lawmakers, in justification of the proposed arrangement, emphasise that the terms for the amendment bill are similar to arrangements with other countries. If anything, these arrangements are more stringent as it only includes 37 out of 46 criminal offences that are extraditable to other jurisdictions. Extraditions will also be assessed on a case-by-case basis and the final decision of whether or not to extradite a suspected criminal is made by the independent courts of Hong Kong.


Debates surrounding the Bill
Whether viewed as an opportunity or an excuse for passing the bill, the lawmakers argue that the Chan Tong-Kai case displayed a “loophole” in the special surrender arrangements of Hong Kong. They have suggested that the loophole comes from the fact that criminals are able to flee from one place to another to avoid punishment, and yet authorities are unable to do anything. For instance, the Hong Kong property tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-Hong has remained in Hong Kong ever since he was jailed in absentia for more than 5 years in 2014, on corruption charges in Macau. It has also been deemed to be unreasonable for Hong Kong to have arrangements with faraway countries such as the United Kingdom but not with directly neighbouring jurisdictions like Taiwan, Macau and the People’s Republic of China. Lawmakers in support of the proposal such as Starry Lee Wai-King and Regina Ip Lau Suk-Yee put forward that there is nothing to fear since safeguards are sufficient; for instance, the suspect can always raise an opposition to being extradited and we can place our trust in the courts to give a reasonable and fair verdict.

On the other hand, strong voices from the opposition argue that this arrangement would erode the protection of human rights for fugitives and Hong Kong citizens at large. It is argued that as the final decision on the extradition would fall upon the chief executive, the decision could involve political pressure by the mainland authorities. The opposition believes that this is fundamentally against the human rights protection granted under the Hong Kong Bill of Rights as there is no guarantee to a fair trial in Mainland China. Additionally, critics have raised concerns over the Mainland fabricating political offences into criminal offences and request extradition. An example would be in the case of the book store owner, Chan Wing-Kee, who was charged with “illegal operations” when it was highly suspected that the Mainland authorities arrested him for selling publications that are critical of the Chinese government. In short, the Bill seems to be marking an apparent departure from the “One Country Two Systems” model, blurring the distinction between the rule of law of the two jurisdictions and establishing closer links with the Chinese legal system.


The way forward
The opposition has suggested alternatives such as dealing with the Chan Tong-Kai case first on an ad-hoc basis (put forward by the Pan-Democrats); others, including the Bar Association and the Civil Party leader Alvin Yeung, suggest extending the jurisdiction of Hong Kong courts so that they could hear overseas murder cases involving Hong Kong suspects and/or victims. These suggestions, however, lack a broad perspective about similar cases that might occur in the future. The general idea about extending surrender arrangements with geographically neighbouring countries is not unattractive per se. However, in light of longstanding concerns of Hong Kong citizens towards “One Country, Two Systems” and the city’s relationship with the Mainland authorities, any debate surrounding the Extradition Bill and broader efforts pushing for a better future should proceed with caution to ensure that Hong Kong’s core values are securely protected. While it is undoubtedly heartening to see so many citizens willing to come forward to express their views about the recent Bill, it is also important that people do not blindly protest and oppose simply for the sake of opposing or remaining in the sting of past events. The stigma against Mainland China regarding how they treat criminals and the opposition is certainly understandable, but it would be more useful to gain a deeper understanding of the facts involved, in aid of a more informed, critical debate. 







港人陳同佳涉嫌在台灣殺死女友後潛逃返港,事件觸發香港政府提出修訂逃犯條例,以建立與澳門、台灣以及內地的引渡安排。現時跟香港簽訂引渡協議的國家包括英國、美國、加拿大、新加坡、馬來西亞以及菲律賓等。港府強調是次草案內容與其他現存的引渡協議相近,甚至更為嚴謹––– 香港與其他國家有46項可引渡刑事罪行,而與澳門、台灣以及內地只有37項為可引渡罪行。港府亦表明所有引渡申請會以個案形式、交由香港的獨立法庭審議並作最後決定,而非由行政機關決定。


一方面,有人認為陳同佳殺人案是政府為推行修訂逃犯條例的藉口;另一方面,政府一直強調有關案件揭露香港的引渡安排存在「漏洞」––– 犯罪分子或潛逃至港逃避法律責任,而外地執法部門缺乏相關的應對措施。例如,香港地產大亨劉鑾雄2014年被澳門法院裁定賄賂及洗黑錢罪成,需入獄五年多,但他一直居留於香港,缺席聆訊,並未服刑。此外,香港與英國等西方國家之間存有引渡協議,卻未有跟鄰近地區(台灣、澳門、中國內地)簽訂,似乎並不合理。若有人於犯罪後逃離至相關地區,其實並非難以想像的事。另外,李慧琼、葉劉淑儀等立法會議員表示修訂草案提供了足夠保障,市民毋須感到憂慮。他們指出疑犯可以對引渡要求提出反對,大眾亦應相信法庭能做出11合理和公平的判決。





Images taken from CTV News and Time Magazine

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