Withdrawal of bill no cure for crisis commission says

Eucharistic adoration at the chapel of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception to pray for Hong Kong and young people on September 6.
Eucharistic adoration at the chapel of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception to pray for Hong Kong and young people on September 6.

HONG KONG (SE): The Justice and Peace Commission issued a statement on September 5 saying that the plan to withdraw of the extradition bill announced by chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, was not enough to appease the strong public sentiment at present, as what Hong Kong people demand at this stage is to seek justice for people suffered from the abuse of police power as well as the creditability of a governance achieved by universal suffrage.

Lam declared on September 4 that the bill will formally be withdrawn once the Legislative Council resumes in October. Meeting the media the next day, she said that she hopes the withdrawal of the bill can act as the basis for further dialogue in society. At the same time, she pledged to visit different communities with officials to form platforms of dialogue.

However, Lam did not answer to the demand of setting up an independent investigation committee, and hoped to ensure a fair report of the panel of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) by adding two members, who are former Bar Association chairperson, Paul Lam Ting-kwok, and ex-director of education, Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping, along with overseas experts. 

The Justice and Peace Commission pointed out that the police’s abuse of power while handling protesters of the anti-extradition bill movement was obviously seen by the general public. It accused the police of using excessive force repeatedly before arresting protesters. 

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The commission had made an earlier statement on September 2 to denounce the violence used by the police at Prince Edward MTR Station on August 31. It condemned the police’s indiscriminate attack on passengers, which led to the injuries of many, and arbitrary arrests.

It said Hong Kong people are fighting for justice after they were angered by the abuse of power by the police, but the IPCC, without the authority to make investigations or summoning witnesses, can hardly find out the truth. 

It further explained that people cannot trust the IPCC as it can only handle cases after they have been processed by the Complaints Against Police Office, which was formed by police officers themselves. “It is absurd to rely on the Complaints Against Police Office, as we cannot even trust that the police can do their work in a fair and just way,” the commission said.

It stressed that an urge demand for setting up an independent investigation committee had also been made by John Cardinal Tong Hon, apostolic administrator of the diocese, together with Reverend Eric So Shing-yit, chairperson of the Hong Kong Christian Council, in a statement on July 19.

It pointed out that the public sentiment at present could not be calmed down by the police or the withdrawal of the extradition bill, as it was related to the lack of creditability of a governance led by a chief executive not elected by the public and a real universal suffrage can be the way out.

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The warning of the commission about the government’s futile attempt to settle down the crisis unfortunately came true as a day of clashes happened between anti-extradition protesters and the police on the next Sunday, resulting in the closure of four MTR stations. Protesters were condemned by the government for vandalising some parts of the stations and setting fire to an entrance in Central.

Before the weekend, the diocese, together with the Hong Kong Christian Council, organised prayer services on the night of September 6 at over 70 churches in different districts in Hong Kong with an aim to pray for solutions for the present crisis, healing after injuries and reconciliation after conflicts.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing told Kung Kao Po on September 2 that many Hong Kong people felt despair over the present situation in Hong Kong, and despair can drive people to two different extremes, violence or surrender. 

He urged people not to forget their faith and reminded them there is no instant victory.

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