Hong Kong’s extradition law needed revising because the current mechanism on ad hoc fugitive transfers was impractical and had “possibly been rushed through” when it was passed into law 22 years ago, security officials told the Legislative Council on Wednesday. The Security Bureau was responding to dozens of questions on the controversial extradition bill raised by Legco’s legal adviser. The bill, if passed, would allow a case-by-case transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions Hong Kong does not have a deal with, including mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. But the bill has triggered a political storm, with the pro-democracy camp fighting it amid fears it might be used to prosecute people for political reasons. It has also aroused concern among the business sector and some overseas governments, and prompted a mass protest in the city in April . Officials, however, have stressed the urgency of passing the bill to allow the transfer of murder suspect Chan Tong-kai, 20, to Taiwan, as he could be released from jail on a related offence in Hong Kong as early as October, leaving him free to flee the city and potentially evade extradition. Under the current Fugitives Offenders Ordinance, the administration can make a special one-off arrangement to send a suspect to any jurisdiction without a formal agreement, but it must be first gazetted and then get approval from lawmakers before the suspect can be transferred. Legco legal adviser Timothy Tso Chi-yuen asked why the government now considered the current arrangement impractical and was pressing for amendments, which would bypass vetting by Legco. Do more to allay extradition fears, says Beijing’s top official in city The bureau hinted in the reply to the secretariat that the current ad hoc arrangement, which has never been used, was summarily passed by the British colonial government in April 1997, a few months before the handover. “We could not see the ad hoc proposal discussed in the bills committee, and there was little discussion in a second reading debate,” the bureau wrote, referring to the debate by the full council before it was put to a vote. “We cannot exclude the possibility it was a suggestion that was rushed through.” Officials said the current proposal was impractical, as the need to be gazetted and vetted by Legco meant the specifics of the case would be publicised, jeopardising the chances of arresting the suspect. While Tso also asked whether removing Legco’s scrutiny role in the bill might go against the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the bureau insisted it was perfectly legal. Row over controversial extradition bill intensifies with legal scholar’s call for changes “When Article 64 of the Basic Law mentions the government should ‘be accountable to the Legislative Council’, it means the government will implement laws passed, regularly deliver a policy address, answer questions from legislators, and require Legco approval before tax and public expenditure,” the bureau wrote. It added the division of work was clear, as lawmakers only took care of the law, while any specific case was a matter of law enforcement. Extradition bill not made to measure for mainland China, says Carrie Lam Pro-democracy lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said it was unjust for the government to attack the ad hoc arrangement by picking on the length of the period of scrutiny for the current bill. “It was unfair to pick on the current legislation, which was not controversial at all at the time, nor was there a practice of lengthy scrutiny,” Yeung said. “The government is just using 2019 standards to pass judgment upon a pre-1997 matter.” He also said the government could always work on a specific deal with Taiwan with minimal change to the current law.