Tony Kwok

Takes is­sue with ir­ra­tional scare sto­ries from op­po­nents, such as claims that a Main­land Port Area will lead to easy kid­nap­pings in the city

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

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!

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