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Life Design

Opinion: Hong Kong’s extradition bill controversy

I really didn’t want to write this, especially since MDW isn’t a political blog or some news outlet. But I felt compelled to write this, because no matter how insignificant this one opinion piece is, it’s important that the internet and media space had some diversity for casual readers to get another perspective on things.

So if you don’t know, I’m based in Hong Kong and I consider this place home, although I was not born or raised here. I have definetely lived here long enough to understand the culture and society here.

It also helps that I speak the language.

The recent civil unrest and mass demonstrations in Hong Kong that’s being plastered on international news outlets is painting, what I feel like, a very one-sided picture of things.

I’m saying it right now.

Hong Kong people are not oppressed. There is freedom of speech and our legal system has not been tampered or encroached by Mainland China. Yet, there’s still 30 years until China is legally allowed to start changing things up in Hong Kong.

The extradition bill, that has not been passed yet is not perfect but it’s not so bad that it can rationalize the reaction and behaviour of many, but not all, in this city.

What is the extradition bill?

The extradition bill is between Hong Kong, China and thus legally, Macau and Taiwan to organize and cooperate local law enforcement for better criminal justice. Just like any other extradition bill that exists in the world.

Hong Kong as of writing has over 20 extradition agreements with other sovereignties, but we somehow do not have one with our closest neighbors in both geography, culture, and language.

The Hong Kong government has already allowed amendments to the details to exclude economic and political crimes after the initial fear of China prosecuting the corrupt wealthy or opposing politicians and activities.

The bill also only applies to individuals that are facing a minimum of 7 years or up and must be passed by Hong Kong courts before the extradition can take place.

Which, interestingly enough, one wealthy businessman is famously escaping a 5 year money laundering sentence in Macau, was very outspoken about being against this bill until the government mentioned putting the 7 year criteria to it…

So why the mass hysteria?

As I said earlier, the bill is not perfect. China is allowed to open old cases up and there is a lack of legal protection the person is guaranteed to have. Not that they are not allowed to have, but it’s not written that they must have.

The other big issue is the Taiwan part of the agreement. China and Taiwan is a whole other conversation I really don’t want to get into, I just implore anyone who feels passionate about the issue to take a history lesson.

Now these are technical issues that should be very easy to discuss and debate over in government with government officials and our elected representatives of various political parties. (That’s right, we do get to vote for who represents us and we do have more than one political party in Hong Kong)

But the reason why Hong Kong people are (in, my honest opinion) overreacting is that they don’t trust China.

No matter what amendment is made to the black on white in that bill, Hong Kong people don’t trust China to uphold it. Coupled with the general discontent with the current government and the recent years of social culture, you get many young Hong Kong people ready to fight at the slightest opportunity you give them.

But does that mean this extradition bill should be scraped?

I think, anyone using their head instead of their feelings would say that an extradition bill can only bring positive changes to a criminal justice system. And that amendments should be made but never scraped if people are dissatisfied.

But for the violence, mass demonstrations and the amount of anger shown on the streets by people…simply make no sense.

So what do you do when the masses are using their emotions to react and not looking at the facts for what they are?

I honestly don’t know.

Why should Hong Kong scrap an extradition bill that will help keep Hong Kong criminals running away? But how on earth do you pass a bill that, no matter what you say or how many leniancies you make, no one will believe?

On record, Hong Kong is harboring 300+ known criminals from China and without this extradition bill, they will carry on living in Hong Kong as free individuals.

The case that started all of this was a young man who already admitted killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, will be set to walk the streets as a free man by the end of this year after serving his money laundering sentence.

Why? because we don’t have the legal system in place for Taiwan to request his arrest and our law enforcement has no ground to arrest him in Hong Kong.

I feel sorry for the girl’s family. Because in recent news, Taiwan’s government has said that regardless of the bill being passed or not, they will not recognise. A.k.a they will not issue an arrest for the murderer if the bill is passed.

It’s these moments that give me the urge to write this. No matter how much hate I will get if Hong Kong people read this. (Good thing my audience is mostly in USA…)

You may say Hong Kong is right to not trust China.

But does that means you actively try to keep your criminal justice system weak and full of loopholes on paper. It’s a bit of the chicken or the egg situation. You need to first have it on paper to have a chance to practice it. Because we can’t practice it without the paper…so for anyone to use the lack of trust to justify scrapping the bill, then they’ve essentially said “we’re not even going to give you the chance, we rather keep this loophole in our system than work with you”.

But trust is a funny thing. It’s heavily dependent on perception and that’s heavily dependent on emotions.

Currently, as I write this, teachers are encouraging students as young as 13 to go to the demonstration areas. Transport worker union leaders are trying to get people to stop working. Young people are practicing civil disobedience within the subway network. Church leaders are bringing entire congregations to demonstrate and social workers are banding together to bring as many bodies present.

But from my personal experience when talking to various people. Many don’t know the details of the bill. Some do, but many do not.

Many do not fully understand why they want it scrapped. They just know they’re angry. Many reasons I hear are misguided or completely false, but they’re very passionate about their anger and hatred towards the government and China.

They’re all just scared of Chinese authorities “kidnapping” people off the streets of Hong Kong.

It might sound funny to you, if you’re not from Hong Kong, but for Hong Kong people, this fear of the “commies” coming to get us is a genuine worry for many.

It initiated the mass immigration during the 1997 handover and this current issue has already started many Hong Kong people to “flee” to Canada and Australia.

But like every fear mongering event, things calmed down and many moved back to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of the safest and freest places I have ever been.

And that’s a lot coming from a person who has lived extensively in over 10 locations, in 3 countries.

Think whatever you may think after hearing authorities tell you Hong Kong is being doomed by China. Feel whatever you may feel after reading comments, or seeing photos online.

But maybe, before you come to a set conclusion you should take the news as bare facts without the emotional fillers that may influence your interpretation.

Good things need to be shared
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