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Expats & The Extradition Law

By Editor's Desk, June 13, 2019, Categories: Buzz-In-Town, Featured, Slider, Top Story

Our rather non-controversial city, which is mostly bustling with busybodies going to-and-fro work, was all riled up on Sunday with protestors, a million of them, taking to the streets to express their angst over the Extradition Law

The protests continue and the city remains under duress for either side – the ones who are against the amendment to the Fugitive Ordinance and the ones who are for it. As for us expats, many are still gauging the situation to decide who we stand with.

Understanding the Extradition Law

Extradition normally requires a treaty between two countries that specifies who can be extradited and for what crimes. The HK Extradition Law will allow China to extradite and prosecute a fugitive in their country. Any person – resident, visitor or even a person in transit, who is in Hong Kong, can be surrendered to the mainland for crimes one is suspected to have committed in the mainland or in Hong Kong.

We explore how this law affects the expats here

Narayanmoorthy Sundaresan, Founder Director and CEO at Career Architects Limited, who is keenly engaged in the Cultural space of the Indian Diaspora in Hong Kong. (PUMHKA, Palghat Cousins and Tharangini HK)

The Extradition Law, will provide the legal framework through which the mainland will have the access to nab a person and prosecute them. It is a powerful law. If we look back, even in India, Acts such as TADA, MISA or COFEPOSA – were the long arms of law that gave very sharp teeth to the government or establishment. But these laws typically did not affect the common man. Only people who are suspected to be guilty or potential dissidents were rounded up by the authorities. Here in HK, if anyone has even the remotest reason to be targeted, then they will be deeply impacted and have to live in constant serious fear.

On Sunday, 9th June, in Hong Kong, a territory of seven million people, over one million took to the streets, protesting against the proposed Extradition Law. This is a significant demonstration of Strong Public Opinion. Mind you, this is not counting the silent dissenters who wished to be present but could not. The protest is based on their conviction that there is no rule of law or transparency in the Mainland. 

While this seems to be the general sentiment of the native population, for expats it seems it isn’t so much of an issue. Hong Kong expats are either deep-rooted businessmen totally apolitical, transient businessman or transient professionals. In the last years, from India too, we have seen a large influx of bright young professionals into the Banking, Finance, Insurance and IT Sectors. For Indians, it is a move in to what is considered a first world country. I do not see this law, even if passed, as a major deterrent. By and large, this may not affect expats from elsewhere too. Especially those who are not political activists. The expats love the fact that their life is very easy in HK, given such a wonderful transportation network, and social ecosystem that also provides for cost-effective domestic help. You know, a HK posting for Westerners is considered a hardship posting? They are eligible for hardship allowance. Here, in a country where the salaries are good, you can hire domestic help, your travel time to work is in minutes not hours – people from anywhere in the world would see it as a great opportunity.

Personally, I believe this law will be passed despite such huge protests. In this duel between this David and Goliath, China (Goliath) is so powerful, they will run over these protests but socially there is so much discontent, it can lead to an outbreak of civil disobedience. Over a period of time, there will be a reconciliation and acceptance of this law as there is no way any entity can prevail against ‘the Might of the Chinese Establishment’.

Antonio Ho, General Counsel for a private equity company in Hong Kong

It’s too vague and Carrie Lam has been addressing the concerns (like ensuring human rights ) with a ‘policy’ but refused to put them in the legislation itself. This does not offer any protection at all because policy by itself is not binding.

In my personal opinion, the first effect on expats will be the trend of expats moving their assets out of Hong Kong. Then there will be less expats willing to stay or move here. Afterwards, if they haven’t yet many multinational companies would relocate their Asia Pacific headquarters out of Hong Kong (currently many companies have their Asia Pacific headquarters in HK).

Meenkshi Gupta, Homemaker 

Since the extradition law isn’t passed yet, it’s fair not to comment on the law itself. But it sounds draconian and has undoubtedly made the Hong Kong people angry and upset. That said, the government has not facilitated dialogue with the locals, not explained enough and definitely not allayed the fears of the public. It is this fear and ignorance that is fanning their anger.

Gaurav Pardeshi, CEO A-DesiFlava

‘My Way or Highway’ – this bill basically means China has access to anyone who happens to be in Hong Kong and has done even a smallest thing that violates their legal judiciary. Especially with over 60% of all kinds of goods being made and exported from China and traded through Hong Kong, the directors of the Hong Kong companies are up against a double-edged sword. Hong Kong businessmen will have to be more cautious now when doing any business or travel in China as we ourselves are not so clear of what’s wrong and right in China with their one language policy.

A-DesiFlava is happy to share your views here. Please comment below or email us your views (editor@aplomhk.com) if you want us to include them here.

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