Fri, Jun 14, 2019 - Page 1 News List

HK should listen to protesters, Tsai says

Staff writer, with CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday urged the Hong Kong government to start a dialogue with its people and listen to their concerns, after its handling of massive protests against an extradition bill the previous day attracted global media attention.

“The bill raises concerns about a possible infringement of human rights, so we hope that the Hong Kong government will treat protesters’ appeals more seriously and start a dialogue, instead of trying to ram the bill through,” Tsai told a news conference at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

Hong Kongers have the right to pursue freedom and democracy, and to choose their preferred way of life and government system, Tsai said.

“As a bastion of democracy in Asia, we will forever support these universal values,” she added.

Earlier yesterday, 10 students from Hong Kong delivered a petition to the Presidential Office calling on Tsai to take action to protect human rights in the region.

The students were representing dozens of other students from Hong Kong in Taiwan, who gathered in front of the Taipei Guest House to express their concern over the extradition bill and the Hong Kong government’s handling of protesters.

They proposed amending Taiwan’s laws on immigration for residents of Hong Kong and Macau, and subjecting civil servants and police from those areas who have participated in the crackdown on protesters to stricter screening rules.

They also called on Tsai to seek other types of judicial cooperation with Hong Kong to handle the case of Chan Tung-kai (陳同佳), a Hong Kong resident accused of murdering his girlfriend in February last year while they were in Taiwan.

As Hong Kong does not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan, it cannot send Chan to Taiwan to stand trial.

“The Hong Kong government has used Chan’s case as an excuse to justify the passage of the extradition bill,” said Gary Cheung (張俊豪), a National Taiwan University of Arts student from Hong Kong.

The bill has also spawned fear among students from Hong Kong that they might not be able to speak freely, even in democratic nations such as Taiwan, he added.

Another student, who asked to be identified only as Leo, said that many Hong Kong students in Taiwan are protesting the bill because it threatens the territory’s core values of freedom and the rule of law.

“The bill will take away Hong Kong’s special status, rendering it no different from Chinese provinces,” Leo said. “This is our last battle. If people are not even willing to take to the streets for this, then Hong Kong is doomed.”

The letter was received by Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊), Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Shih Keh-her (施克和) and Presidential Office spokesman Ting Yun-kung (丁允恭).

Tsai said that her government would not accept a bill that undermines Taiwan’s sovereignty, nor would it be an accomplice to what she called a “terrible law.”

Controversy over the bill has not only underscored the infeasible nature of China’s “one country, two systems” model, but has also made Taiwanese appreciate the nation’s democratic system and way of life even more, she said.

“As president, it is my utmost duty to safeguard Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty,” Tsai said.

Any attempt to undermine the two things Taiwanese hold most dear or use them as political leverage “will not prevail as long as Tsai Ing-wen is president,” she added.

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