Hong Kong leader says divisive extradition law will be 'suspended'

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 15, 2019, 12.52 PM(IST)

File photo of protest against extradition bill in Hong Kong. Photograph:( AFP )

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'The council will halt its work in relation to the bill until our working communication explanation and listening to opinions is completed,' Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said

Following huge protest against the controversial extradition bill, Hong Kong on Saturday decided to suspend the law which proposed on extradition to mainland China.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said, "divisive extradition law will be suspended".

"The government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise," Lam told reporters.

"The council will halt its work in relation to the bill until our working communication explanation and listening to opinions is completed," she said. "We have no intention to set a deadline for this work., " she added.

Support for the extradition bill began to crumble on Friday with several pro-Beijing politicians and a senior advisor to Lam saying discussion of the bill should be shelved for the time being.

The international finance hub was rocked by the worst political violence since its 1997 handover to China on Wednesday as tens of thousands of protesters were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

Three days earlier record crowds held a record-breaking rally in which organisers said more than a million people hit the streets calling for the law to be scrapped.

As criticism mounted, Lam found herself under pressure to backtrack, even from within her own political camp and advisors.

She said the extradition law was needed to plug loopholes and stop the international finance hub being a haven for criminals but admitted her administration had underestimated the public backlash. 

"I feel deep sorrow and regret that the deficiencies in our work and various other factors have stirred up substantial controversies and disputes in society following the relatively calm periods of the past two years," she said. 

(With inputs from AFP)