Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah on Saturday rejected protesters’ demands to not charge their comrades who took part in clashes during an anti-extradition bill protest last week. Cheng was the first government official to appear in public since a 15-hour siege of the city’s police headquarters ended in the small hours of Saturday with police vowing a “stringent follow-up” on protesters’ actions. She also reiterated in person her apology for the poor handling of the government’s contentious plans to amend the law. Speaking on the sidelines of an appointment ceremony for senior barristers, Cheng said: “When the Department of Justice presses charges, it is based on the law, relevant facts and our prosecution rules. “As a member of the government, I offer my most sincere apology,” she added, acknowledging that the administration had handled the bill poorly, sparking division among the public. HK Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng makes apology in person for gov's poor handling of #ExtraditionBill 1) No bow 2) Did not respond to Q whether to resign 3) Prosecutors lay charges in based on law, facts and rulebook 4) Existing mechanisms sufficient to deal with complaints pic.twitter.com/AvRpnhWfYQ — Chris Lau (@hkchrislau) June 22, 2019 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> She did not respond to the question of whether she would step down over the poor handling of the bill. The government’s proposed extradition arrangement, which would have allowed Hong Kong fugitives to be transferred to mainland China, among other jurisdictions, for trial, triggered mass protests over the past two weeks. An estimated 2 million people marched last Sunday, following intense clashes between protesters and police on June 12, when 150 rounds of tear gas, as well as rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, were fired to disperse crowds. Cheng had earlier expressed the same sentiments in a blog post on Friday. Before her, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu had also made apologies. Lam announced last Saturday that the amendments to the extradition bill had been suspended. But protesters, religious groups and the legal sector are demanding a complete withdrawal. On Friday, protesters adopted a new mobile protest strategy – inspired by a maxim of the late martial artist Bruce Lee : “Be water, my friend” – to try to stall government operations. Hong Kong police condemn protesters, vow response after 15-hour siege They are fighting for four demands: for the bill to be withdrawn; for previously arrested protesters to be exonerated; the retraction of all references to the protest on June 12 as a “riot”; and for police officers who used excessive force that day to be punished. The government had previously called the intense clashes last week a “riot” before later backing down. On Saturday, Cheng said: “Whether it has been labelled by anyone as a riot would not affect the Department of Justice’s work to press charges.” “If the evidence accepted by the court did not have prospects of a successful conviction, we would not make the decision to prosecute,” she added. The city’s No 4 official made no reference to the siege of police headquarters by protesters on Friday. Cheng was attending the appointment ceremony of four barristers, Eva Sit Yat-wah, Jenkin Suen, Rachel Lam Yan-kay and Laurence Li Lu-jen, who were each appointed senior counsel. Former constitutional chief Stephen Lam Sui-lung, father of Rachel Lam, called for restraint from all parties and hoped order would be restored as soon as possible. “Different views were expressed and heard,” he said, after attending his daughter’s admission ceremony. “The chief concern was that the bill would not pass into law, and this objective has already been achieved.” Pressed on how the government should do more to restore trust in the current administration and the police, Lam said Hong Kong’s various institutions were still functioning, and the public should value that. Justice minister denies wrongdoing over arbitration cases from her private practice Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li reminded the four new members of the inner bar that their appointments were more than just a title in their career. “It is the promotion of the rule of law and a proper unbiased understanding of it,” he told them. Asked about the recent protests and whether he was disheartened, Ma said it was a happy day for the four new members but he would not comment on anything beyond that.