Co-lo­ca­tion plan wins ma­jor­ity sup­port: Sur­vey

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WILLA WU in Hong Kong willa@chi­nadai­ Jan­ice Fung con­trib­uted to the story.

More than 60 per­cent of re­spon­dents in Hong Kong are in fa­vor of the govern­ment’s joint bound­ary check ar­range­ment for the high­speed rail ter­mi­nus in West Kowloon, ac­cord­ing to re­sults of a poll pub­lished on Tues­day.

The sur­vey, con­ducted by the Lib­eral Party be­tween Aug 2 and 7, showed 61.7 per­cent of the 1,262 in­ter­vie­wees sup­ported the ar­range­ment, which al­lows pas­sen­gers go through both main­land and Hong Kong im­mi­gra­tion in­spec­tions at the ter­mi­nus by invit­ing main­land law-en­force­ment of­fi­cers to op­er­ate within a re­stricted port area.

Mean­while, the sur­vey also found 68.2 per­cent of the in­ter­vie­wees held that co-lo­ca­tion is “the key” to max­i­mize eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits that will be brought by high-speed trains.

In ad­di­tion, 58.9 per­cent of in­ter­vie­wees agreed that co-lo­ca­tion would not only ben­e­fit Hong Kong with con­ve­nient trans­port, but also bring new op­por­tu­ni­ties for eco­nomic boom.

Lib­eral Party law­maker Tommy Che­ung Yu-yan said as the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment has al­ready been dis­cussed in a “metic­u­lous process” be­tween au­thor­i­ties from both sides in the past decade, he be­lieved the plan would be sat­is­fac­tory to both sides.

The three-step process, pro­posed by the govern­ment to im­ple­ment co-lo­ca­tion at the ter­mi­nus, which in­cludes an agree­ment with the main­land au­thor­i­ties, an ap­proval by the na­tion’s top leg­isla­tive body — the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, and sup­port by the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil — in­di­cates a high sense of democ­racy in the pol­i­cy­mak­ing, Che­ung said.

The Hong Kong govern­ment an­nounced on July 25 that one-fourth of the West Kowloon Sta­tion would be des­ig­nated as a Main­land Port Area with na­tional laws ap­plied. This is sched­uled to go with the launch of the Hong Kong sec­tion of the Guangzhou-Shen­zhen-Hong Kong ex­press rail link (XRL) in the third quar­ter next year.

Also on Tues­day, five leg­is­la­tors and about 20 le­gal ex­perts formed a con­cern group, voic­ing their sup­port to the co-lo­ca­tion plan.

They said that the plan was “rea­son­able” as it was “in ac­cor­dance with the coun­try’s Con­sti­tu­tion and the Ba­sic Law”.

Leg­is­la­tor and law pro­fes­sor Priscilla Le­ung Mei-fun, who is the group’s co-con­vener, said the claim that the co-lo­ca­tion plan was “ced­ing land” had no le­gal ba­sis, there­fore were mis­lead­ing.

The group also said that they will en­gage more le­gal schol­ars to ex­plain the plan to the pub­lic and clar­ify con­cerns raised by the pub­lic.

The XRL’s Hong Kong sec­tion will let the city tap into the main­land’s high-speed rail­way network. Af­ter the Hong Kong sec­tion op­er­ates, it will take 48 min­utes to Guangzhou, eight hours to Shang­hai and about nine hours to Bei­jing.

The Lib­eral Party re­leased re­sults of a pub­lic opinion poll which found more than 61 per­cent of 1,262 qual­i­fied re­spon­dents sup­port the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion govern­ment’s draft plan for the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ments in­side the West Kowloon Sta­tion of the Guangzhou-Shen­zhen-Hong Kong Ex­press Rail Link (XRL). It is yet an­other proof of ma­jor­ity back­ing for the pop­u­lar mea­sure, de­signed to let main­land im­mi­gra­tion, cus­toms and quar­an­tine in­spec­tion au­thor­i­ties en­force main­land laws in a leased “port area” that all pas­sen­gers must go through to board XRL trains. Sev­eral ear­lier polls con­sis­tently showed sim­i­lar re­sults, with ma­jor­ity sup­port for the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment.

Also on Tues­day, a group of leg­isla­tive coun­cilors who are prac­tic­ing lawyers an­nounced that they would found an al­liance of law pro­fes­sion­als ded­i­cated to clear­ing away var­i­ous make-be­lieve sce­nar­ios dreamed up by the op­po­si­tion camp to scare mem­bers of the pub­lic into re­ject­ing the colo­ca­tion ar­range­ment. The move fol­lowed a suc­cinct state­ment on Tues­day by Wang Guangya, di­rec­tor of the Hong Kong and Ma­cao Affairs Of­fice of the State Coun­cil, that no in­ter­pre­ta­tion by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the rel­e­vant ar­ti­cle(s) of the Ba­sic Law is nec­es­sary to clear the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment for launch­ing.

It is about time Hong Kong’s hon­est le­gal pro­fes­sion­als stepped for­ward and helped the pub­lic see through the smoke­screen of fear re­leased by op­po­si­tion “spin doc­tors” bent on de­mo­niz­ing every­thing re­lated to the main­land de­spite the ben­e­fit the XRL will cer­tainly bring to Hong Kong so­ci­ety. There is no doubt the op­po­si­tion par­ties are des­per­ate th­ese days be­cause they know they won’t be able to block the SAR govern­ment’s XRL bill re­gard­ing the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment when the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil re­turns for busi­ness next month. That is why they are go­ing all-out to hood­wink as many lo­cal res­i­dents as they can into be­liev­ing the dark myths they have fab­ri­cated would come true.

Peo­ple have been gen­uinely amazed re­cently by the imag­i­na­tion of those op­po­si­tion politi­cians, in­clud­ing quite a few wellestab­lished lawyers who have tire­lessly used their pro­fes­sional cre­den­tials for all sorts of fear-mon­ger­ing over the years. The myths of hor­ror they have spun out over the colo­ca­tion ar­range­ment since the govern­ment re­vealed the draft plan is noth­ing short of breath­tak­ing but the ma­jor­ity of the lo­cal pub­lic know bet­ter and have scoffed at those wild tales all along. That said, more ef­fort is nec­es­sary to in­form the pub­lic about the truth of the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment. This is so that even more Hong Kong res­i­dents will rally be­hind the SAR govern­ment in this war on lies to pre­serve the pub­lic in­ter­est as best we can.

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