Hong Kong government withdraws bill that sparked protests

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong authorities yesterday withdrew an unpopular extradition bill that sparked months of chaotic protests that have since morphed into a campaign for greater democratic change.

Secretary for Security John Lee told the legislature that the government had suspended the bill because it had resulted in “conflicts in society”.

In order to clearly spell out the government’s position, “I formally announce the withdrawal of the bill,” Lee told lawmakers. Pro-democracy lawmakers immediately tried to question him but he refused to respond.

There are no signs that the withdrawal of the bill would dampen the protests, now in their fifth month. The rallies have snowballed into the city’s biggest political crisis in decades, expanding to demands for universal suffrage and an investigation into allegations of police abuses.

The long-expected scrapping of the bill was overshadowed by the drama surrounding the release from a Hong Kong prison of the murder suspect at the heart of the extradition case controversy.

Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee withdraws the extradition bill at the Legislative Council complex in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AFP