The SCMP previewed the decision on Friday, but even then it seemed hard to believe, given the immense pressure Beijing has applied to Lam and her government to pass the bill, which would allow Hong Kong to extradite people who are wanted on the mainland. But the plan has faced unprecedented opposition both in Hong Kong and the US, where Congress has threatened to pass legislation diminishing Hong Kong's status as an "independent" territory.
Lam has run the city since being installed by Beijing in 2017. The last popular protest movement in the country, the so-called 'Umbrella' movement of 2014, failed to stop Beijing from effectively pre-screening candidates for the city's leadership.
Though it has been indefinitely suspended, Lam made it clear that she wasn't killing the bill, and that it would be re-considered some day. She apologized for the rollout of the bill, and said that its benefits had not been clearly communicated to the public.
"I believe that we cannot withdraw this bill, or else society will say that this bill was groundless," Mrs. Lam said at a news conference.
Lam said she felt "sorrow and regret" that she had failed to convince the public that it was needed, and pledged to listen to more views.