The murder suspect whose case triggered massive protests last year is not turning himself in to Taiwan yet because he needs to arrange Mandarin interpretation, a priest who is assisting him says.

Anglican priest Koon Ho-ming told media earlier this week that Chan Tong-kai, 22, had not reached out to Taiwan authorities himself or applied for a Taiwan visa because his Mandarin is “not very good,” and that he does not understand the relevant procedures.

Koon said that that they are waiting on the arrangement of their Taiwan-based law firm, which finally issued a statement Monday that it had contacted prosecutors in Taiwan.

Chan is wanted by the self-ruled island for allegedly murdering his then-girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, during a trip in February 2018.

Chief Executive said last year that the murder was the basis for proposing an extradition bill that would allow the transfer of fugitives to countries and jurisdictions that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with.

After he came back to Hong Kong, Chan served time for a money laundering charge related to the murder, which he has confessed to committing. He was released from prison last October, and told a crowd of reporters gathered outside that he was deeply apologetic and would turn himself in to Taiwan.

Read more: ‘I’m sorry to the people of Hong Kong’: Murder suspect whose case sparked extradition bill row released

But almost one year on, Chan is still in Hong Kong, staying at a safe house with his mother and living under police protection. The pandemic, Koon said, has halted his plans to surrender.

The protracted delay has become a become the butt of a joke on a Facebook page called “Daily concerns about Chan Tong-kai’s surrender.” The page, as its name suggests, posts daily updates of “reasons” why Chan is still in Hong Kong.

“Day 357 out of prison, there’s a typhoon [today.] Not feeling good, won’t go yet,” a post yesterday—when Tropical Storm Nangka prompted the observatory to raise the typhoon no. 8 signal—read.

Poon’s mother has repeatedly urged Chan to atone for his crime. She gave her an ultimatum earlier this month, stating that if Chan does not go to Taiwan by October 23, the date that marks one year since he was released, she will not offer him a mitigating testimony that could lighten his sentence.

In an interview with HK01 last month, the mother said: “When the epidemic began, he said he couldn’t go and has to wait for travel restrictions to be lifted. [He’s making] a lot of excuses. Why doesn’t he just come out and face the citizens? What’s he waiting for?”

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Murder suspect not heading to Taiwan yet because his Mandarin is 'not very good,' priest says

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