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Global Times

Tsai wants to capitalize on it for next year's election: expert

Global Times

By Yang Sheng and Li Sikun Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/23 23:28:41

Taiwan wants to maximize the political value of Chan Tong-kai's homicide case, as the island's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities held inconsistent and self-contradictory stances over how to proceed Chan's case, experts said.

Chan was released in Hong Kong after serving his sentence on Wednesday for money laundering. Chan's case prompted Hong Kong Special Administrative Region(HKSAR) government to propose an extradition bill to facilitate transfer of fugitives, which later triggered months-long turmoil in Hong Kong.

China's HKSAR government on Wednesday rejected Taiwan's offer to send officers to escort Chan to the island upon his prison release, saying it is "totally unacceptable" because such cross-jurisdiction law enforcement disrespects Hong Kong's jurisdictional power, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The rejection came after Taiwan authorities released a statement requesting to send police officers and prosecutors to Hong Kong to bring back Chan, a Hong Kong resident wanted by Taiwan authorities for murdering his pregnant girlfriend last year in Taiwan.

As Hong Kong has been struggling with month-long violent protests, Taiwan's DPP secessionist authorities started to use and hype the Hong Kong turmoil to demonize the "one country, two systems" principle and rally support for DPP's radical political line and secessionist stance, with experts saying that the DPP's main goal is to politicize the incident for its election campaign next year.

Before Chan was released, Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen and other senior DPP figures said on Monday and Tuesday that Taiwan won't accept him in Taiwan and blamed the HKSAR for not handling Chan's case in Hong Kong. The statements were heavily criticized on the island, including from former island leader Ma Ying-jeou. He said the DPP is ridiculous and cold blooded as it totally ignores the rights and feelings of the victim's family.

Peter Koon Ho-ming, Provincial Secretary General of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, the Anglican Church in Hong Kong and Macao, who is also a top Anglican priest who had been visiting Chan in jail and planned to accompany Chan to Taiwan to surrender, told the Global Times that Chan always wants to atone for what he did and surrender to Taiwan. But he is worried because Taiwan has been changing its stance.

To be honest, this should be a very simple case, Koon said. "If Chan could get a fair trial, he and I will definitely go to Taiwan, but since Taiwan authorities are inconsistent and capricious, we need time to consider what to do next."

Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, solicitor of Hong Kong's Supreme Court, told the Global Times that because of the involvement of many political elements, it has become complicated. "The DPP doesn't want the case to proceed easily, and wants to maximize its value for the election in the next year."

The DPP refused to accept Chan's surrender before he was released because the party believes this could damage Taiwan's "judicial sovereignty," which contradicts its secessionist position and will affect next year's election, experts said. They added that it changed stance later because it realized that its previous stance against basic rights and law made itself embarrassing.

HK's response

The HKSAR government released a statement after midnight on Wednesday.

"We do not agree with Taiwan's claim that we can handle Chan's case in Hong Kong," the HKSAR government said, reiterating the Hong Kong Department of Justice's thorough and comprehensive consideration of the police investigation and the evidence collected, and confirmed that there was only enough evidence to prosecute Chan for money laundering, and not other offenses, including attempted murder or the so-called "willful plan to commit homicide."

"Making arbitrary demands to a prosecutorial institution to commence trial without sufficient evidential and legal bases is neither responsible nor does it accord with the principle of the administration of justice. The HKSAR government's stance is clear, and has been consistent," it said.

"The incident took place in Taiwan. The body of the deceased, key witnesses, exhibits and relevant evidence are in Taiwan. Taiwan has jurisdiction over this offense. Now that Chan is willing to surrender, Taiwan should receive him, and initiate interrogations, evidence gathering and prosecution," the HKSAR government said in the statement.

Chan is wanted in Taiwan and his decision to surrender was voluntary, the statement said, adding that since he will be released from jail, the HKSAR government has no authority to restrict his movements.

Extradition bill needed

The day Chan was released, the HKSAR government officially announced the withdrawal of the extradition bill.

Wong, who has always supported the extradition bill, told the Global Times, "This is ironic. The current situation involving Taiwan and Hong Kong regarding a wanted man in Taiwan proves that a legal loophole exists, and needs to be fixed. We need to establish a legal basis for judicial assistance between Hong Kong and other regions."

Unfortunately, due to political implications in and out of Hong Kong, the extradition bill that was intended to fix such problems has now been officially withdrawn, and even caused months-long unrest in the city, which is still ongoing, Wong said.

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