Co-lo­ca­tion ‘com­plies with Ba­sic Law’: Al­bert Chen

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HK | INTERVIEW - By JOSEPH LI in Hong Kong joseph@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Hong Kong SAR Ba­sic Law Com­mit­tee mem­ber and law pro­fes­sor Al­bert Chen Hungyee says the co-lo­ca­tion of boundar y con­trol fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing a Main­land Port Area in­side the West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus, com­plies with the Ba­sic Law.

He b e l i e v e s p e o p l e w h o abide by the law do not need t o w o r r y ; m o r e o v e r, m o s t cit­i­zens will find the ex­press trains and co-lo­ca­tion ser­vices fast and con­ve­nient.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with China Daily, Chen said the Ba­sic Law does not ex­plic­itly per­mit a co-lo­ca­tion sys­tem. But he said the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment can rely on Ar­ti­cle 20 as the pre­dom­i­nant le­gal ba­sis by ob­tain­ing Na­tional Peo­ple’s Con­gress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC) ap­proval to run a co-lo­ca­tion sys­tem and its au­tho­riza­tion for the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil to en­act a law for this pur­pose.

He says Ar­ti­cle 20 pro­vides a safe le­gal ba­sis against ju­di­cial chal­lenges be­cause the ar­range­ment has been thor­oughly dis­cussed by main­land and Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties. “Re­gard­less of le­gal chal­lenges, I don’t think the court will or­der in­junc­tion to stop the co-lo­ca­tion sys­tem from func­tion­ing or the ex­press trains from op­er­at­ing,” he said.

Chen has ob­served that the “pan-democrats” op­pose the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment, yet with­out of­fer­ing a work­able so­lu­tion. Also, he dis­misses their claim that a Main­land Port Area in West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus amounts to “ced­ing a piece of land”. He said this is spark­ing fears among cit­i­zens who have never visited the main­land or gone through any im­mi­gra­tion con­trol points.

Ar­ti­cle 20 of the Ba­sic Law says: The Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion may en­joy other pow­ers granted to it by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Con­gress, the NPCSC or the Cen­tral Peo­ple’s Gov­ern­ment.

Chen ex­plained: “The Ba­sic Law is a con­sti­tu­tional doc­u­ment, which is writ­ten as a frame­work and is not as de­tailed as a piece of leg­is­la­tion. When it was drafted in the 1980s, ex­press rail links and co-lo­ca­tion sys­tems did not ex­ist.”

“How­ever, Ar­ti­cle 20 of­fers room for un­ex­pected things from a pur­pose ap­proach. So, whether things not men­tioned in the Ba­sic Law can be done de­pends on whether an ap­pro­pri­ate le­gal ba­sis can be found in the Ba­sic Law.”

Chen backs the co-lo­ca­tion pro­posal that the Main­land Po r t A r e a c o v e r s w a i t i n g ar­eas, plat­forms and trains be­cause once pas­sen­gers have com­ple ted de­par ture pro­ce­dures with Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties, they are deemed to have en­tered the main­land. They are there­fore sub­ject to main­land ju­ris­dic­tion.

“Main­land of­fi­cers work­ing in the Main­land Port Area in West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus shall have full power of law en­force­ment on top of cus­toms, im­mi­gra­tion and quar­an­tine laws. Oth­er­wise, they can­not han­dle north­bound pas­sen­gers sus­pected of other crimes and pre­vent sus­pects wanted by main­land au­thor­i­ties from flee­ing to Hong Kong.

“The op­po­si­tion camp ar­gues co-lo­ca­tion is against

It is hard for them (main­land of­fi­cers de­ployed in the SAR) to work in closed un­der­ground com­pounds, re­turn­ing to the main­land the same day after work.”

the Ba­sic Law but I think it is com­pli­ant. The Main­land Port Area is not ‘ceded land’ be­cause it is lo­cated on the un­der­ground lev­els of West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus in Hong Kong, not in Shen­zhen. It is not a bad prece­dent, know­ing the pur­pose of the area is for the ben­e­fit of the pas­sen­gers and it is not pos­si­ble to have many Main­land Port Ar­eas in fu­ture be­cause strict pro­ce­dures are in­volved.

“The Hong Kong gov­ern­ment ’s ‘ three-step process’ re­flects a high de­gree of au­ton­omy. After the NPCSC ap­proves the co­op­er­a­tion a g r e e m e n t b e tw e e n Ho n g Kong and Shen­zhen, the colo­ca­tion ar­range­ment still has to be im­ple­mented by Hong Kong leg­is­la­tion,” he pointed out.

Chen said peo­ple should show un­der­stand­ing to main­land of­fi­cers de­ployed in West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus.

He said: “It is hard for them to work in closed un­der­ground com­pounds, re­turn­ing to the main­land the same day after work. It is more ap­pro­pri­ate to say they pro­vide ser­vices to the pas­sen­gers than law en­force­ment. They are not like sol­diers sta­tioned here, and still the sol­diers have caused no prob­lems over the past 20 years.”

PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY

West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus, the 11-hectare un­der­ground sta­tion of the Hong Kong sec­tion of Guangzhou-Shen­zhen-Hong Kong Ex­press Rail Link, is cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion.

Al­bert Chen Hung-yee,

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