CE hints at con­sul­ta­tion on co-lo­ca­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WILLA WU and LUIS LIU in Hong Kong Contact the writer at willa@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

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

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