Hong Kong’s pro-establishment bloc gained the upper hand in its push for controversial amendments to the city’s extradition laws on Monday, after ousting a pan-democrat who played a key role in the opposition’s filibuster effort. The pan-democrats said they would ignore the ousting order and threatened to take legal action against Kenneth Chen Wei-on, the Legislative Council’s secretary general, whom they said had breached his duty by helping their rivals unseat the Democratic Party’s James To Kun-sun from presiding over the committee that scrutinises the amendment bill. The contentious bill would allow case-by-case transfers of fugitives to places Hong Kong lacks a formal extradition agreement with – including mainland China and Taiwan. It is strongly opposed by critics who do not trust the legal system in mainland China and fear Hongkongers may be victimised for political reasons. Officials have stressed the urgency of passing the bill in time to extradite Chan Tong-kai, 20, who is wanted in Taiwan for his girlfriend’s murder. Chan was jailed for 29 months on related money-laundering charges by the High Court last week and could be released as early as October. The committee was expected to meet for the third time on Monday afternoon, having yet to elect a chairman. Pro-government lawmakers gained control of the bills committee after they won a vote on Monday to replace To with Abraham Razack, from their camp. After the Legco secretariat made the replacement official, Razack postponed a meeting scheduled for late afternoon until May 11, a move a source said was intended to avoid confrontation with the pan-democrats. But To, medical sector legislator Pierre Chan and 22 other lawmakers from To’s camp pressed ahead with the 4.30pm meeting and elected To chairman and Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok vice-chairman. Pan-democrats warn of legal action over extradition bill Razack said a chairman would only be elected at the meeting on Saturday, when To said he would organise a parallel meeting. Sources in the camp said the pan-democrats would hold parallel meetings every time their rivals held a meeting. The pro-government camp’s unseating plan began on Saturday, when the House Committee issued a non-binding guideline for To’s replacement. The secretariat also issued a circular to 62 members of the bills committee to vote, on paper, on whether to adopt the guideline without convening a formal meeting. The move prompted 23 pan-democrats to issue a legal letter to Chen on Monday, warning that he and the bills committee’s secretary might have breached their duty and committed misconduct in public office. The letter stated the pan-democrats might “take further legal action, including but not limited to launching an action against [Chen] or reporting the aforementioned misconduct to the relevant law enforcement agencies.” Security Bureau under fire for not revealing public feedback on fugitive bill Chen expressed regret in a statement over the lawmakers’ criticisms, insisting the secretariat remained independent. Legal scholar Eric Cheung Tat-ming of the University of Hong Kong said the dispute could eventually end up in court, to clarify which side should have the say over the legislative process. While courts are usually reluctant to intervene in Legco business, Cheung said this was different as the legislative procedure was not completed.