Dialogue with Hong Kong government over extradition bill 'not realistic', Joshua Wong and fellow student leader say

South China Morning Post Dipublikasikan 10.06, 24/06/2019
Dialogue with Hong Kong government over extradition bill 'not realistic', Joshua Wong and fellow student leader say

Student leaders have dismissed calls for talks with Hong Kong officials over the extradition bill crisis, saying protesters instead wanted their demands, including bill's withdrawal, to be met.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung, secretary general of pro-democracy party Demosisto, told a radio programme on Monday it would be regressive to start talks with the government regarding the bill, in light of recent protests.

"I do not think that I, or any political figure or group, can represent 2 million protesters," he said.

Wong was referring to the record-breaking number of protesters who took to the streets on June 16 against the bill, four days after police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds into crowds surrounding the legislature.

The march went ahead despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor earlier suspending the divisive proposal, which, if passed, would allow the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions with which the city has no extradition deal.

This includes mainland China, where critics say there is no guarantee of a fair trial.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city's largest pro-establishment party, said on Sunday the government could consider holding talks with protesters and retracting the bill.

Starry Lee (in green jacket) called for dialogue between the government and protesters. Photo: Nora Tam

Jacky So Tsun-fung, president of Chinese University's student union, who was on the same programme as Wong, said it was not realistic for protesters to have a dialogue with officials.

Wong agreed, asking how it was possible to even find a contact point, given a lot of the protests against the bill were spontaneous and not initiated by any group.

Jacky So, president of CUHK student union, appears on a radio show on Monday morning. Photo: Winson Wong

"The problem now is not that everyone wants to have dialogue with (the government), but rather whether you want to accept the four demands," he said.

The four demands are for the bill to be withdrawn; for arrested protesters to be exonerated; the retraction of all references to the protest on June 12 as a riot; and for any police officers who used excessive force that day to be punished.

Police fire tear gas at anti-extradition protesters on Lung Wo Road, near the Legislative Council complex, on June 12. Photo: Felix Wong

"It is not realistic and feasible for the government to use the methods it adopted five years ago to attack the Umbrella Revolution, such as using middlemen to drop hints, prominent members of the community to mediate and pressure students to affect the political agenda," Wong said, referring to the pro-democracy Occupy sit-ins of 2014, which lasted 79 days.

Wong, a student at the Open University, hoped the government and pro-establishment camp would move with the times, as "under-the-table political transactions" were no longer suitable.

Both students said they could not estimate how many would take part in Monday's plan to surround the government headquarters, but So said there would be tertiary students on standby to provide support.

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