Wong: EU officials’ interference inappropriate and unacceptable
Updated: 2019-05-28 07:21
By Joseph Li In Hong Kong(HK Edition)
It is inappropriate and unacceptable for European Union consuls general to interfere in Hong Kong’s amendments to its extradition laws, Kennedy Wong Ying-ho told China Daily
This has prompted the Foreign Ministry and its commissioner in the SAR to speak out, urging foreign countries to stop meddling in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, he said.
The extradition law amendments have been raised to the foreign affairs-level after central government officials expressed their support for the bill to counter foreign intervention, added Wong.
In the early stages, he noted that the central government remained silent, believing it was a legislative matter for the SAR government in accordance with the Basic Law and the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council.
“When we attended the annual Two Sessions in Beijing in March, the central government did not say anything. Yet in the wake of foreign intervention, with United States and Canadian officials and the last Hong Kong governor, Chris Patten, criticizing the extradition law amendment, the central government expressed very deep concern about the matter,” he told China Daily.
Last week, a group of 11 consuls general from the European Union went to see Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to protest the legal amendments. Wong is experienced with consular affairs as he has been the honorary consul general for Albania for 15 years. But he condemned the behavior of the consuls general.
“It is totally inappropriate and unacceptable,” Wong said.
“The EU has 28 member states but why were only 11 present?” he asked.
“The EU has very diverse traditions and cultures. For those who did not meet with Carrie Lam, I guess it is because their respective governments have not any special stance toward this issue and have not told their consuls in Hong Kong whether to support the amendment bill or not, although I do not know who was present and who was not.
“To my knowledge, the EU is dominated by big countries like Britain, France, Germany and Spain, while Britain, which has close relations with the US, is behind forces against the extradition law amendment.”
Wong, together with people from the business, professional, youth and grassroots sectors, has recently formed an alliance named “Safeguard Hong Kong, Support the Surrender of Fugitive Offenders Legislation”. Wong is the group’s convener and spokesman.
It is similar to the alliance that they founded in 2014 to counter the illegal “Occupy Central” protests. It has obtained some 1.8 million signatures from Hong Kong citizens against the illegal occupation.
“The purpose of this alliance is to provide a platform to collect public opinion and gauge support for the law amendments. Many citizens think it is good to amend the extradition law so fugitive offenders cannot hide in Hong Kong. Over 260 community organizations have joined the alliance, and so far, close to 500,000 people have submitted their signatures online to support the amendment bill.
“We are very strict with the authenticity of signatures, requiring the citizens to provide their full name, first four digits of their Hong Kong identity card number and also their mobile phone numbers,” Wong added.
“Apart from the signature campaign, we also run booths in the streets, with more booths on Saturdays and Sundays until passage of the extradition amendment bill.”
He believes ordinary citizens need not worry if they abide by the law, as it only targets people who have committed serious crimes and fled from the places where they committed crimes.
Wong said business people were worried because they did not fully understand the bill. They also did not understand the “limitation period of prosecution”, which is part of the mainland legal system, but now they know more about it.
For example, if the maximum sentence of a certain offense is five years, the mainland authorities could not pursue or prosecute a person five years after the offense is committed. In these circumstances, the mainland authorities would not apply for extradition of an offender from Hong Kong.
Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, convener of joint petition Safeguard Hong Kong, says the campaign in support of the rendition law amendment bill has garnered nearly 500,000 signatures online. Roy Liu / China Daily
(HK Edition 05/28/2019 page4)