No need to panic over co-lo­ca­tion of im­mi­gra­tion fa­cil­i­ties: Tong

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By JOSEPH LI in Hong Kong joseph@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The co-lo­ca­tion of im­mi­gra­tion, cus­toms and quar­an­tine fa­cil­i­ties at the West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus of the Guangzhou-Shen­zhen-Hong Kong Ex­press Rail Link (XRL) is legally vi­able, Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cilor and Se­nior Coun­sel Ronny Tong Ka-wah be­lieves.

The Hong Kong sec­tion of the XRL, now more than 90 per­cent com­plete, is sched­uled to start run­ning in the third quar­ter of next year. The spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion gov­ern­ment will soon un­veil the plan for co-lo­ca­tion of bound­ary con­trol fa­cil­i­ties on the Hong Kong side.

Tong thinks co-lo­ca­tion will greatly ben­e­fit pas­sen­gers and boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. He does not think the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment will harm “one coun­try, two sys­tems” or vi­o­late the Ba­sic Law, brush­ing aside such pan­ick­ing com­ments as “over sen­si­tive”.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with China Daily, Tong said the Shen­zhen Bay model, where co-lo­ca­tion of fa­cil­i­ties has been op­er­at­ing for 10 years, with Hong Kong of­fi­cers ex­e­cut­ing Hong Kong laws in a des­ig­nated area on the main­land side of the bound­ary, can be repli­cated in the West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus.

He re­called that the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress (NPC) estab­lished the Hong Kong SAR in ac­cor­dance with the coun­try’s Con­sti­tu­tion and has the author­ity to amend the de­mar­ca­tion of the SAR.

In 2006, Hong Kong ac­quired 41.5 hectares in Shen­zhen Bay by way of a leave which will ex­pire on June 30, 2047, with the ap­proval of the State Coun­cil. In re­cent years, Hong Kong and Shen­zhen signed a Me­moran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing on jointly de­vel­op­ing 87 hectares of land in the Lok Ma Chau Loop along the Shen­zhen River, to build the Hong Kong-Shen­zhen In­no­va­tion and Tech­nol­ogy Park.

Through con­sul­ta­tion with the Hong Kong and Shen­zhen govern­ments, Hong Kong laws are ap­plied in both ar­eas.

“I be­lieve it is con­sti­tu­tion­ally vi­able if the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC) de­cides to set up a des­ig­nated area for main­land use in the West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus,” the se­nior coun­sel noted.

“The area of Hong Kong has in­creased more than 128 hectares in re­cent years. Hong Kong peo­ple are not against it and are quite happy so a ‘main­land area’ in the ter­mi­nus is no big deal at all.

“And if a ‘main­land area’ is set up, it is no longer a part of Hong Kong and so the Ba­sic Law and the laws of Hong Kong will not ap­ply. More­over, it is very nor­mal that pas­sen­gers are sub­ject to the laws of a coun­try or re­gion once he or she has en­tered a neigh­bor­ing place of dif­fer­ent ju­ris­dic­tion, as this hap­pens in many places in the world,” he ex­plained.

“The pur­pose of co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment is not po­lit­i­cal but to ben­e­fit the trav­el­ers and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Why is it harm­ful to ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’? I think such a com­ment is over sen­si­tive,” he said.

Tong noted that in 2007, the Shen­zhen Bay Port Hong Kong Port Area Or­di­nance was en­acted by the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil. The law specif­i­cally states that the Hong Kong Port Area is con­trolled by Hong Kong and laws of Hong Kong will be ap­pli­ca­ble.

If the NPCSC con­sents to co-lo­ca­tion of fa­cil­i­ties in West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus, it is nec­es­sary for the Hong Kong side to en­act a new law to reg­u­late the main­land of­fi­cers work­ing in the des­ig­nated area.

ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY

Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cilor and Bar­ris­ter Ronny Tong Ka-wah says he does not think the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment at the West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus will harm “one coun­try, two sys­tems” or vi­o­late the Ba­sic Law.

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