CE hints at consultation on co-location
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor hinted on Thursday that the co-located boundary control arrangement for the Guangz hou-Shenzh en-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) would open for public consultation during “summer holidays”, in a bid to ensure XRL’s scheduled opening in the third quarter of next year.
This might mean the government would present the full proposal to the people of Hong Kong in one or two weeks.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan on the same day echoed that discussion of the scheme between Hong Kong and the mainland had entered the “final stage” and would be presented to public soon.
Local analysts welcomed the government’s move, adding that the scheme would not harm Hong Kong’s interests.
Co-located boundary controls mean people will go through both Hong Kong and mainland boundary checks at the West Kowloon Terminus of the XRL’s Hong Kong section. This will save time for travelers to a great extent.
Lam said during a media briefing with local front-line journalists that time was ticking for the public consultation as the XRL was expected to run in the third quarter of next year. The upcoming summer holidays would be an ideal time to launch the consultation, since after the consultation the scheme needs to be tabled to the Legislative Council for deliberation before the final approval.
Previously, a number of opposition lawmakers claimed the arrangement “threatened Hong Kong people’s safety” as it would bring mainland law enforcement officers to the city.
LegCo’s three-month summer recess starts later this month.
Lam admitted it would be tough to implement co-location boundary controls. Yet she stressed that she and her government would “rise to the challenge”.
On another occasion, the city’s transport chief Chan noted the public would “soon to be informed” about the scheme but did not reveal a precise date as some details of the scheme were still under discussion.
Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, a member of LegCo’s Panel on Transport, said launching the public consultation on the scheme during the summer holidays would give LegCo members more time to understand and digest the scheme before discussing it after sessions resume in October.
Previously Tien suggested setting up a restricted area within the West Kowloon Terminus for implementing joint boundary controls. He told China Daily that the upcoming scheme might go with his suggestions.
Political analyst Lau Siu-kai said he was optimistic about implementing the co-location arrangement in Hong Kong. He noted that the public and lawmakers understand well that co-location was one of the most significant arrangements for maximizing the effect of the high-speed rail.
Under a favorable administrative-legislative relationship built up by Lam, Lau expected the lawmakers will forge a consensus and pass the bill in time.
Launching the public consultation during the summer holidays will give Leg Co members more time to understand and digest.” Michael Tien Puk-sun, member of the Legislative Council