Hong Kong extradition law: reactions and preparation ahead of tomorrow's reading of bill at Legco

YP Team

The police stop and search people in Admiralty MTR, causing crowds to form; and Carrie Lam has received threatening phone calls

YP Team |

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Police officers in riot gear attempt to push protesters back during a night of clashes in Hong Kong following Sunday's rally.

[UPDATE - Wednesday, June 12, 00.15am]

Throngs of people have arrived outside the Legislative Council Building to protest the extradition bill. While access to the protest site is reported as being clear, there is still a heavy police presence in and around the MTR. 

Scores of police officers in riot gear have been gathering, some carrying yellow tanks of what netizens suggest might be pepper spray on their backs, along with the flags we warning seen before during Occupy Central. They also appear to have guns capable of firing bean bag rounds. 

Reports of police stopping and searching journalists, including a South China Morning Post reporter at Admiralty MTR and Apple Daily near the protest site. 

Chris Yeung Kin-hing, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, said he had on Monday expressed concern about police searching the bag of a journalist in an earlier incident.

He called the move “deeply regrettable”.

“Police should exercise their power with restraint and common sense,” Yeung said. “Abuse of power would give rise to worries that officers are trying to scare reporters, or cause hindrance to the work of journalists.”

Police officers stand guard outside the Legislative Council building as people protest the extradition bill in Hong Kong
Photo: Reuters

[UPDATE - Wednesday, June 11, 10.37pm]

The Progressive Lawyers Group posted on their FaceBook page a statement by the Joint Professional Groups yesterday. The statement by the 19 groups say tomorrow's reading of the bill is a "blatant disregard of the people's voice". 

They say Chief Executive Carrie Lam's response to Sunday's Million March was insinscere and they called on the government to withdraw the bill and for Lam to step down.

"The government must take primary responsibility for the conflict that ensued since it was provoked by the government’s scornful treatment of measured opposition," the statement read.

[UPDATE - Wednesday, June 11, 8.37pm]

Hong Kong Police are out in large numbers, stopping and searching people's bags at Admiralty MTR station. Reports say they are confiscating supplies from protest logistics teams and particularly targeting young people.

Lawmakers Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Roy Kwong Chun-yu are trying to mediate. The police were even seen entering Admiralty Centre's McDonalds, probably not for a a happy meal.

As crowds build, tempers are frayed and netizens question the legal basis for the police action. Eventually police appear to relent.

Meanwhile people are gathering at outside government, mostly religious groups singing hymns and praying for Hong Kong.

Christian groups gather outside the government complex to sing hymns and pray for Hong Kong.
Photo: Joanne Ma

[UPDATE - Wednesday, June 11, 6.48pm]

Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen announced that the extradition bill amendment could be passed as soon as next Thursday. He said on Tuesday that only 61 hours would be allocated to looking at the bill.

Pan-democratics have called for the bill to be shelved. They expected Leung to allow sufficient time for lawmakers to debate the bill before the Legislative Council’s summer break starts in mid-July. 

Leung said he set aside only 61 hours for the debate partly because the Security Bureau had emphasised the urgency of passing the amendment.

But the pan-democrats were furious about Leung’s plan for the bill. Before Leung finished his media briefing, legislators Gary Fan Kwok-wai, Au Nok-hin and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick had left their offices in the building to confront the Legco president.

“How can you be so shameless, Leung Kwan-yuen? A million people took to the streets on Sunday to oppose the bill!” Chu said.

Au added: “What kind of institution are you turning Legco into?”

About 10 more pan-democrat lawmakers soon joined in. The media briefing was abruptly ended and Leung was escorted from the scene by security guards.

[UPDATE - Wednesday, June 11, 6.48pm]

Local media reports Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah have received threatening phone calls and demands to retract the extradition bill.

Certain social media pages have also had comments doxxing goverment officials and pro-establishment legislators. The home addresses of dozens of officials were posted, before being deleted within 15 minutes.

Hong Kong police are planning to flood the streets with 5,000 officers in response to calls for a second wave of protests outside the city’s legislature and administrative headquarters on Tuesday night, law enforcement sources have said.

The deployment from a total force of 30,000 will see officers drafted in from all over Hong Kong, and comes in response to the running battles that took place between police and protesters in the early hours of Monday morning.

Describing it as “a huge operation”, one source told the Post “the police force will mobilise workforce from all districts”.

The number of officers is only slightly fewer than those deployed when senior Chinese officials visit the city.