Law-abiding business people need not worry about extradition bill

Updated: 2019-05-22 07:17

By Tsang Chi-ming(HK Edition)

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Tsang Chi-ming explains why these proposed amendments will not affect Hong Kong people who are doing business on the mainland

Law-abiding business people need not worry about extradition bill

Ever since its proposal to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance was announced, the SAR government has been diligently promoting details of the proposed amendments to all sectors of the community. The objective of the amendments is very clear: to plug the existing legal loopholes and prevent Hong Kong becoming a haven for criminals to evade justice. To ease worries about the extradition law being abused, the amendment bill tabled by the government has included a battery of safeguard measures to ensure the rights and interests of criminal suspects are fully protected.

Nonetheless, some sectors in Hong Kong society are still trying to use the local business sector as a means to obstruct the amendment, spreading rumors that the business community is opposed to the proposed amendments because they are concerned about "inadvertently breaking the law" on the mainland. Undeniably, a few individuals from the business sector misunderstood the amendment bill when it was initially introduced due to a lack of full knowledge about it. Their misunderstanding about the bill has been taken advantage by people with ulterior motives. The rumormongers, who are opponents of the bill, seized the opportunity to magnify the concerns of the business sector, and have been peddling an alarmist narrative, claiming that once the bill is passed, it would be difficult to do business and every Hong Kong resident would be at risk.

The truth is such narrative is a pure baloney. The extradition law amendments were drafted in accordance with the United Nations' standards for human rights protection, complete with strict legal procedures on the surrender of fugitives. The extradition procedure must first be initiated by the chief executive and then scrutinized by the court to ensure the extradition request meets the necessary legal requirements. Political offenses and others that are not a crime under Hong Kong law will not be extraditable.

Moreover, the suspect in question can always apply for a personal protection order, which will require the court to conduct a more rigorous review on the extradition request. Hong Kong people, the business sector included, need not to worry about the amendment at all. Besides, the SAR government has deleted nine offenses from the list of extraditable crimes after widely consulting the public. Not only will extraditable offenses become clearer, the threshold for rendition has also been raised so that only offenses that are punishable by a minimum of three-year sentence will be extraditable. Therefore, there is no need for the business community to fret over the amendment as long as they operate their businesses within the boundaries of law.

As for the suggestion that mainland authorities could request for the extradition of a Hong Kong resident under a false charge, it is nothing more than pure imagination. Ever since the beginning of the reform and opening up, the Chinese mainland has emphasized the importance of enhancing the rule of law. Significant achievements have been made in this regard over the years, with suspects being trialed in open and transparent courts of law, ensuring their rights are protected.

It is clearly stipulated in the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance that extradition will only take place when the offense is punishable by law in both places. Hong Kong will also require the requesting party to promise that no additional charges will be imposed on the suspect. In other words, the extradited suspect will only be prosecuted for the crime(s) cited in the extradition request, and no other indictments against the defendant will be allowed. This will therefore eliminate the possibility of false charges.

The business sector in Hong Kong has maintained a fine tradition of being patriotic, law-abiding and pragmatic. Having been involved in business operations and transactions with the mainland for decades, they have a good understanding of the investment environment on the mainland and abide by the law there. Many of my friends in the commercial industry have expressed their understanding of and support for the government's initiatives to amend the fugitive law. They only hope that the amendment bill will be deliberated thoroughly and take as many factors as possible into consideration during the legislative process so that the procedures for future extradition will be clearer and more transparent. This will ensure that the rights and benefits of the people in question will be sufficiently protected.

This is an excerpt translation of a Chinese article by Tsang Chi-ming published earlier on Wen Wei Po.

(HK Edition 05/22/2019 page8)