英文

Editorial:Twists and turns over Chan Tong-kai's surrender

【明報專訊】The murder case allegedly perpetrated by Chan Tong-kai has reignited a row between Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Taipei authorities have claimed that the two sides have long set up a ''window for liaison'' regarding the case and everything depends on Chan's and the Hong Kong government's sense of responsibility. The Hong Kong government has refuted the claim, saying that the so-called ''single window liaison point'' is merely a unilateral description by Taiwan. All the key evidence of Chan's case is in Taiwan. A year has passed since Chan was released after serving his sentence for money laundering. Till now, he still cannot turn himself in to Taiwan because the political manoeuvres by the Taipei authorities have become the biggest obstacles to his surrender. Tsai Ing-wen's government has tried to push the Hong Kong government into having a formal ''government to government'' negotiation with Taipei, which involves the complicated struggle across the Taiwan Strait as well as the ''One-China'' principle. However, one should go back to the basics. Given the fact that Chan has reiterated his willingness to surrender, if Taipei really means to be committed to the rule of law, it should stop playing politics and facilitate Chan's surrender and trial in an active manner, so that the deceased can rest in peace and her family can be relieved.

Because of the special relationship between the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, in order not to touch upon the complex issue of sovereignty and the ''One-China'' principle, there has never been an official relationship or exchange between the Hong Kong government and the Taipei authorities. Despite the absence of any mutual legal assistance agreement between Hong Kong and Taiwan, there is a long-standing co-operation mechanism in real practice between the police forces of the two sides. Chan Tong-kai was jailed in Hong Kong for charges including money laundering. After he was released last October upon completion of his sentence, he indicated that he was willing to surrender to Taiwan for the murder charge. At that time, the Hong Kong government wanted to transfer the suspect in the same way as the Tsuen Wan ''cement-coffin'' murder case was handled in 2016, meaning that Chan would be accompanied by a Taiwan police officer in a low-profile manner on his flight to Taiwan. However, the Taiwan side demanded the Hong Kong government sign an agreement of mutual legal assistance first, turning the whole thing into a stalemate.

Because Chan has completed his sentence and been released, legally he is a free man. If he wants to surrender himself to the Taiwanese authorities, that will be his personal decision. The arrangements regarding his surrender should be discussed by Chan's lawyer and Taiwan. After a consensus is reached by the two sides, the Hong Kong government may then provide some technical assistance. However, the Taipei authorities insist on handling the matter on the ''government to government'' level. Although the Hong Kong government has reiterated that the existing Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance does not apply to Taiwan and the law has not given the Hong Kong government any authority to intervene as to whether Chan surrenders or not, the Taiwanese government has stressed repeatedly that ''the Hong Kong authorities'' have not communicated with Taiwan regarding the case. Premier Su Tseng-chang has even made it clear that the governments of Taiwan and Hong Kong should ''have proper discussions'' about the matter.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council has claimed many times that Taiwan and Hong Kong have already set up a ''single window liaison point'' regarding Chan's surrender. But the Hong Kong government has categorically denied the claim, stressing that it is merely a unilateral description by Taiwan. International mutual legal assistance in criminal matters refers to the ''government to government'' consultations and mutual assistance between two places. The prerequisite is that the two sides must set up a window for dialogue. By comparison, the sort of mutual legal assistance between Taiwan and Hong Kong in the past has been achieved through channels under the table. The Democratic Progressive Party government wants to change the past model of practical handling of issues between Taiwan and Hong Kong. Still, the Hong Kong government is bound to respect the ''One-China'' principle regarding all issues related to Taiwan. Any move that comes with overtones of Taiwan independence is unacceptable. If the Taipei authorities are determined to follow this direction, Chan's path to his surrender is doomed to have many twists and turns.

明報社評 2020.10.06:陳同佳案再起波瀾 台方政治操作不休

「陳同佳涉嫌殺人案」再度引起港台兩地摩擦,台北當局聲稱,兩地早已就此案建立「聯繫窗口」,還看陳同佳及港府是否負責任,港府則反駁,所謂「單一聯繫窗口」之說,乃是台北當局一面之詞。陳同佳殺人案,關鍵證據全在台灣,陳在港刑滿出獄一年,至今仍未能赴台自首,台北當局的政治操作成為最大障礙。蔡英文政府逼港府與台北當局進行「政府對政府」的官方交涉,事件扯上複雜的兩岸角力以至「一個中國」原則。然而回歸基本,既然陳同佳再三重申願意自首,台北當局若想履行法治,便應停止政治操作,積極方便陳同佳投案受審,讓死者安息,讓家屬釋懷。

兩岸四地關係特殊,為免觸及複雜的主權問題,以及「一個中國」原則,港府與台北當局從來沒有正式官方關係或交往。香港與台灣雖無司法互助協議,不過兩地警方在實務層面一直有合作機制。陳同佳因洗黑錢等罪名在港入獄,去年10月刑滿獲釋,他願意就殺人案赴台自首,當時港府也希望以2016年荃灣石棺案疑犯移交方式,由台方警員低調陪同登機赴台,然而台方要求港府先與台灣簽訂司法互助協議,令事件陷入膠着狀態。

陳同佳在港刑滿獲釋,法律上是自由的人,他想赴台灣自首,屬於個人決定,投案事宜理應由陳同佳代表律師與台方磋商,雙方有了共識,再由港府提供一些技術協助,可是台北當局堅持事件要在「政府對政府」層面處理。港府再三表示,現行的「刑事事宜相互法律協助條例」並不適用於台灣,陳同佳自首與否,法律並未授權港府干預,然而台方一再強調,「香港官方」沒有就投案一事跟台方聯繫,行政院長蘇貞昌更表明,港府及台灣政府應就事件「好好的談」。

台灣陸委會多番表示,台港兩地已就陳同佳歸案建立「單一聯繫窗口」,港府矢口否認,強調這只是台方單方面的描述。國際刑事司法互助,指的是兩地「官方對官方」的協商互助,前提是雙邊須建立對話窗口,相比之下,過去台港的司法互助,走的是枱面下的管道。民進黨政府想改變以往台港處理實務事宜的模式,然而任何涉台問題,港府都一定要顧全「一國」,不能接受任何帶有台獨色彩的操作。如果台北當局執意朝這方向走,陳同佳投案之路恐怕還會有很多波折。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

row /raʊ/:a serious argument between people, organisations, etc. about sth

window:​a time when there is an opportunity to do sth, although it may not last long

overtone /ˈəʊvətəʊn/:an attitude or an emotion that is suggested and is not expressed in a direct way

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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