Takes issue with irrational scare stories from opponents, such as claims that a Mainland Port Area will lead to easy kidnappings in the city
As predicted, when the government announced its co-location proposal for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link’s West Kowloon Terminus, opposition parties, their co-conspirators, scholars and certain media outlets quickly launched an all-out attack to denounce the proposal. They used ugly phrases such as “selfcastration” and “end of Hong Kong” to incite citizens.
I was at home when the government announced its proposal at a press conference on the afternoon of July 25. I was pleased to note that TVB broadcast the whole press conference live. However, as I needed to leave home in the midst of it, I thought I could catch up with a radio live broadcast and was disappointed that RTHK, with all its channels, did not bother to do so. RTHK subsequently gave an edited version of the press conference in their 5 pm evening talk show. I was further annoyed when the first invited guest to talk on the subject was prominent opposition politician Alan Leong Kah-kit, who spoke non-stop for the entire first session of the talk show. We need no further proof of RTHK’s editorial independence as a government broadcaster!
I used to have a great deal of respect for Leong given his gentlemanly behavior befitting a barrister and honorable member of the Legislative Council. But these days, I am shocked at his irrational and alarmist comments. Without any supporting evidence whatsoever, he bluntly warned that once the co-location arrangement is in place, mainland law enforcement agents can easily kidnap any local citizen, bring them to the terminus and spirit them to the mainland. If he had read the government proposal properly, he should know that the mainland law enforcement agents are not allowed to go out of the terminus. If they really want to kidnap any Hong Kong citizen to bring back to the terminus, they need to go through the restricted areas of the Hong Kong immigration and customs checkpoint. But that’s beside the point. As Chris Wat Wing-yin, the popular commentator, said in her column — if the mainland authorities really want to kidnap any Hong Kong citizen, is it not much easier for the People’s Liberation Army officers in Hong Kong to bring them to any of their military bases all over the territory and airlift them to the mainland by helicopter? The fact that there have never been such allegations against the PLA in the 20 years they have been stationed here shows how absurd Leong’s claim is.
Whether the government proposal is in breach of the Basic Law is a matter for our robust independent judiciary to decide in due course. Indeed, it is an opportunity too good for those who wish to disrupt Hong Kong to miss, and three individuals have already filed for judicial review in this connection. As the opposition parties have already decided to set up a powerful concern group to confront the government over this issue, the Legal Aid Department should under no circumstance approve any applications for legal aid in this connection. The concern group should put their money where their The author is an honorary fellow and adjunct professor of HKU SPACE, council member of the China Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, a former deputy commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and international anti-corruption consultant.
mouths are to champion what they believe to be a just cause by financing their own judicial review application, instead of using a poor citizen as proxy to seek legal aid.
What our citizens should be more concerned about is whether their human rights have been affected by the co-location arrangement. Contrary to dire warnings from political naysayers, clearly they are not. Anyone who walks into the terminus, buys a ticket and passes through the Hong Kong immigration checkpoint obviously is prepared to enter the mainland and abide by its laws. In short, it’s no different from passing through the Lo Wu Bridge and boarding the train in Shenzhen. It is the same as for a Londoner boarding the train at the Eurostar terminal in London, and after passing through the British checkpoint, he enters the French co-location checkpoint, whereupon he is effectively in French jurisdiction.
A percentage of people harbor negative views on the mainland out of ignorance and are not likely to set foot there. Their views on the colocation issue are therefore irrelevant. But the voices of the millions of travelers who would commute between Hong Kong and the mainland should be heard. I would therefore suggest the government conduct a survey of the commuters at Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau and Shenzhen Bay checkpoints to ask them whether they support the co-location arrangement. It can be done easily by installing electronic machines at all immigration checkpoints so the commuter can simply push the buttons for “support”, “not support” or “no opinion” as they pass through. I believe the result would be well above 80 percent and that should be enough to shut up the opposition.
Actually we all know the opposition camp is most unlikely to successfully sabotage this sensible time-saving co-location arrangement, otherwise the time saved from the speed of the new service will only be wasted on avoidable redundant immigration and customs procedures. They are creating all this needless political drama merely to discredit the central government and use it as leverage to extract advantage in other areas from the new administration of Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, which is bending over backwards in an effort to create a more conciliatory atmosphere to facilitate the resolving of our many pressing issues. As demonstrated in the recent LegCo Finance Committee meetings, public interest is never a priority item on the opposition camp’s agenda!