Cracks emerge in the support base for the proposed Hong Kong law to allow extraditions to China.
The opponents of the bill have warned they would more demonstrations after hundreds of thousands took to the streets this week.
Opposition to the bill on Sunday triggered the former British colony’s biggest political demonstration since its return to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal. The agreement guarantees Hong Kong’s special autonomy, including freedom of assembly, free press and an independent judiciary.
On Friday, one of the key advisers to Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, Executive Council member Bernard Chan, told Cable TV he did not think a formal discussion of the bill, a precursor to a final vote by the legislature, should continue at present.
“Do we consult, strengthen the bill, or what? Is there still any chance of the bill passing? These are all factors the government must consider,” he said.
“But I definitely say that right now it’s not possible – at a time when there are such intense divisions – to keep discussing this issue. The difficulty is very high.”
Michael Tien, a member of Hong Kong’s legislature and a deputy to China’s national parliament, urged the city government to put the bill on hold.
And 22 former government officials or Legislative Council members, including former security secretary Peter Lai Hing-ling, signed a statement calling on Lam to “yield to public opinion and withdraw the Bill for more thorough deliberation”.
“It is time for Hong Kong to have a cool-down period,” Lai told Reuters. “Let frayed tempers settle before we resume discussion of this controversial issue. Please, no more blood-letting!”