HONG KONG, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said on Sunday that it would continue to address concerns over the amendments to the HKSAR's Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance through calm and rational discussion.
In response to a public procession on Sunday over the amendments, a HKSAR government spokesman said that throughout the past four months, the HKSAR government had listened attentively to different views and responded positively to some suggestions.
"As a result, two sets of amendments were made, respectively before and after the presentation of the bill (to the Legislative Council). These have provided additional safeguards which have been welcomed by concerned parties and have effectively allayed most of those earlier worries," the spokesman said.
The Fugitive Offenders & Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, proposed by the HKSAR government, was tabled at the Legislative Council for discussion in April. The Second Reading debate on the bill will resume on June 12.
"We urge the Legislative Council to scrutinize the bill in a calm, reasonable and respectful manner to help ensure that Hong Kong remains a safe city for residents and businesses," the spokesman said.
"The reasons why the (HKSAR) government tabled this bill have been explained in detail on many occasions. Based on experience in recent weeks that face-to-face explanations by relevant officials have helped to dispel misunderstanding, the government will continue to engage, listen and allay concerns through calm and rational discussion," he said.
The spokesman stressed that the bill was prompted by the murder of a Hong Kong resident in China's Taiwan, which brought into sharper focus deficiencies of the existing regime dealing with mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and the surrender of fugitives.
"If these deficiencies were not addressed as a matter of priority, Hong Kong would continue to be a bolt-hole for criminals, putting Hong Kong residents' safety at risk and disregarding our international responsibilities in the fight against cross-border and transnational crimes," he said.