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HK can stop mainland mums, Basic Law guardians say – Immigration

Local deputies to NPC are told by legal experts that the administration has done virtually nothing to curb the problem of mainland mothers giving birth in city

Tanna Chong, Emily Tsang and Colleen Lee – Mar 07, 2012   Mainland legal experts known as the “Basic Law guardians” told Hong Kong delegates the influx of mainland women giving birth in the city was the administration’s problem and the solution rested in its own hands.

The message was sent in a meeting between local deputies to the National People’s Congress and the State Council’s Institute of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, according to NPC deputy Wong Kwok-kin, who said the experts believed “the local government has virtually done nothing to curb the problem”.

The debate is on whether the Court of Final Appeal should rule on granting right of abode to babies whose parents are not Hongkongers, given an NPC interpretation of the mini-constitution in an earlier case stating that at least one parent has to be a Hong Kong resident. “The ‘guardians’ think the Hong Kong government should seek to rectify the discrepancy between the NPC’s decision and the Court of Final Appeal’s judgments in two cases,” said Wong, who preferred not to name them “to avoid the experts’ embarrassment”. “They clearly said the central government would not initiate another interpretation of the Basic Law,” said Wong, a Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker who is in Beijing attending the NPC’s plenary session.

His remarks came ahead of a meeting today between deputies, local delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Wang Guangya , director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, to discuss the issue. Among those meeting the experts were FTU chairman Cheng Yiu-tong, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong members Ip Kwok-him and Tam Yiu-chung, its chairman, and New People’s Party vice-chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun, who said the meeting “was initiated by the office to understand the problem”.

According to Wong, the experts said there were many ways to trigger an interpretation. “For example, immigration authorities can refuse to issue birth certificates in at least one case to trigger a lawsuit, offering a chance for the government to apply for an interpretation,” Wong said.

Earlier, Basic Law Institute Head Alan Hoo also weighed in on the issue. He said it had never been the legislative intent of the Basic Law to grant right of abode to everyone born in the city, meaning only babies with at least one Hong Kong parent should be a citizen. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said the city would step up collaboration with Guangzhou to curb the influx of mainland mothers into the city.

Meanwhile, a meeting will be held this month between the health bureau and private hospitals to discuss maternity bed quotas for non-local women next year. The bureau plans to cut the quota, but private hospitals want their quota to remain the same as this year, at 31,000. Public hospitals have a quota of 3,400.

A source close to the Hospital Authority said private hospitals had collated data showing their contribution to easing overcrowding in public neonatal intensive care units, hoping to convince the bureau to retain this year’s quota next year.


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