Members of Hong Kong’s opposition Pan-democrat Party said on Saturday they refuses to “retreat” if the controversial extradition bill is not withdrawn, disapproving the announcement made by leader Carrie Lam to suspend the law.
Pro-democracy legislator Kenneth Leung said the announcement by the city’s chief executive was “too little, too late” and demanded Lam step down.
“If [Lam] refuses to withdraw, to scrap this controversial bill altogether, it would mean we wouldn’t retreat. She stays on. We stay on. Because her so-called commitment here, it’s completely lacking in sincerity,” said another pro-democracy legislator, Claudia Mo.
In her first public appearance or comments since Wednesday, Lam said on Saturday there was no deadline, effectively suspending the process indefinitely.
Political opponents called for the bill to be scrapped completely. Protest organizers said they would go ahead with another rally on Sunday to demand Lam’s resignation.
Lam told reporters she took the move in response to widespread public anger over the measure, which would enable authorities to send some suspects to stand trial in courts in mainland China, where courts have reportedly had a near-perfect conviction rate.
“People in Hong Kong want a relatively peaceful and calm environment,” Lam told reporters. She said it was time “for responsible government to restore as quickly as possible this calmness in society.”
Many in the former British colony worry the measure would further erode cherished legal protections and freedoms. Appearing cheerful but occasionally frustrated over repeated questions over whether she would resign, Lam said the government would study the matter further, for the “greatest interest of Hong Kong.”
Government adopting ‘an open mind’
“After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise,” Lam said.
“I want to stress that the government is adopting an open mind,” she said. “We have no intention to set a deadline for this work.”
Lam apologized for what she said were failures in her government’s work to convince and reassure the public, but said she has not withdrawn the bill.
“Give us another chance,” she said.
She said she would “adopt a sincere and humble attitude in accepting criticism” over the government’s handling of the issue.
Lam announced the bill would be suspended after protests on Wednesday turned violent, leaving about 80 people injured including 22 police officers.