LC Paper No. CB(2) 1435/98-99
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/H/5
Minutes of the Briefing by the Secretary for the SecurityMembers present :
at the 22nd Meeting of the House Committee Meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
on Friday, 5 February 1999
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, JP
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, SC, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Margaret NG Ngoi-yee
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Chin-shek, JP
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Hon FUNG Chi-kin
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JPMembers absent :
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon HUI Cheung-ching
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Public officer attending :
Mrs Regina IP, JPSecretary for Security
Clerk in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
Staff in attendance :
- Mr Ricky C C FUNG, JP
- Secretary General
- Mr Jimmy MA, JP
- Legal Adviser
- Mr LEE Yu-sung
- Senior Assistant Legal Adviser
- Ms Pauline NG
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Mr LAW Wing-lok
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)5
- Miss Mary SO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
1 The briefing by the Secretary for Security (S for S) commenced at 3:15 pm.
2. The Chairman welcomed S for S and thanked her for attending the House Committee meeting for the second time in one day to brief members on the deliberations of the special task force which held its first meeting in the morning. The Chairman informed members that the special task force was headed by the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) to examine the implications of the judgment of the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) on cases relating to the right of abode (ROA) of persons born in the Mainland to Hong Kong permanent residents.
3. S for S said that the special task force considered that the Administration's priority task was to obtain a reliable estimate on the number of persons who were or would be eligible for ROA in Hong Kong following the CFA's judgment. To achieve this, the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) would conduct a household survey from March to May 1999 to ascertain the number of Mainland children and spouses of Hong Kong residents. The data to be obtained in the survey would be on such items as age, sex, number of persons, educational level and job skills, etc. She pointed out that it would be difficult to attain 100% accuracy in the survey findings, as some of the respondents might not be willing to disclose information regarding the number of children born out of wedlock. She added that the findings of this survey, together with those obtained from the surveys to be conducted in two cities in the Guangdong and Fukien provinces in the Mainland, would provide a reliable estimate of the number of eligible Mainland residents. Furthermore, the number of applications for One-way Permit (OWP) and Certificate of Entitlement (C of E) submitted by Mainland ROA claimants would be another reliable source to indicate the number of eligible persons residing in the Mainland.
4. Miss Margaret NG said that it was important that the Administration should expeditiously work out the new procedures for accepting and processing C of E applications. In her view, a three-week period for formulating the new application procedures was too long. She expressed concern that there would be
confusion in the interim and enquired whether the three weeks' timeframe could be shortened.
5. S for S responded that it was already a formidable task for the Administration to have to put in place the new application procedures in only three weeks' time. The Director of Immigration (D of Imm) would visit Beijing in the early part of the following week to hold further discussions with the Mainland authorities on the long term arrangements for the timely, lawful and orderly exit of C of E holders for settlement in Hong Kong.
6. Miss NG further asked what arrangements would be adopted for processing C of E applications. S for S replied that the Administration had some preliminary thoughts on the arrangements to be adopted for processing C of E applications. For example, the Administration would give due consideration to the CFA's suggestion of inviting the Bureau of Exit-entry Administration to act as an agent of the Immigration Department (ImmD) to facilitate applications for the C of E.
7. Mr CHAN Kam-lam asked whether the special task force had made any preliminary plans to address the impact of a sudden increase in the number of Mainland migrants on the provision of services such as education, housing, social welfare, medical care, transport and other infrastructure facilities.
8. S for S responded said that the Administration's priority was to deal with all those C of E applications which were submitted by Mainland ROA claimants prior to the CFA's judgment. She further said that there would not be any problem in absorbing the 13 000 eligible Mainland children who had already been issued with a C of E and were expected to arrive in the coming year. As regards those who became eligible for ROA following the CFA's judgment, the Administration would have to wait for the outcome of the household surveys to be conducted in Hong Kong and in the Mainland before it could assess the impact on the provision of services.
9. Mr CHAN further asked whether the 13 000 Mainland children already issued with Cs of E and the 16 000 Mainland ROA claimants who had applied for a C of E would be able to arrive within one year. S for S replied that the Mainland authorities had been requested to expedite the issuance of OWPs to the 13 000 eligible Mainland children to facilitate their entry as a matter of priority. She further said that the 16 000 C of E applications from ROA claimants below the age of 20 submitted prior to the delivery of the CFA's judgment would be dealt with in the usual manner.
10. The Chairman opined that the implications of the CFA's judgment could not be accurately assessed within a short period of time. He suggested that the relevant Panels should follow up on the issues deliberated by the special task force which fell within their purview. Members agreed with the Chairman's suggestion.
11. Miss CHAN Yuen-han asked whether the special task force had discussed any preliminary plans for the provision of services to cater for the intake of a large number of eligible Mainland residents in the coming years. S for S reiterated that it would be difficult to assess at the present stage the impact of the arrival of eligible Mainland residents on the provision of services, as the exact number of these persons would not be known until after the surveys to be conducted in Hong Kong and in the Mainland had been completed. However, the Policy Bureaux concerned would start conducting preliminary studies on the provision of services in the medium and longer term to cater for the intake of these persons, rather than wait until a reliable estimate of the number of eligible persons was obtained from the surveys. Scientific models would be used in making projections and formulating plans.
12. Miss CHAN further enquired whether the relevant Panels would be consulted on the preliminary plans drawn up by the Policy Bureaux concerned before the end of July 1999. S for S responded that the relevant Policy Bureaux would start making preliminary assessment of the demand for services, but she could not say whether any preliminary plans would be drawn up before the findings of the C&SD's survey were known.
13. Mr LAU Chin-shek enquired whether the Administration would address the provision of services relating to employment and job training, as some of the eligible persons were over the age of 20. S for S responded that the age of eligible persons would be included in the Administration's assessment and the relevant Panels would be briefed on the Administration's findings in due course.
14. Mr LAU Kong-wah asked whether the number of illegal migrants from the Mainland had increased since the delivery of the CFA's judgment. S for S replied that there was no sign of an upsurge in the number of Mainland residents entering Hong Kong illegally following the CFA's judgment. According to the information obtained over the past few days, the average number of illegal migrants stood at 40 per day, which was the same as last month's daily average. In anticipation of a possible influx of illegal Mainland migrants in the wake of the CFA's judgment, the Administration had discussed with the Mainland authorities several times during the past few months the measures to be taken to step up control surveillance on both sides of the border.
15. In reply to Mr LAU's further enquiry on the Administration's policy in dealing with Mainland ROA claimants with Two-way Permits overstaying in Hong Kong, S for S said that these overstayers would be repatriated back to the Mainland. She reiterated that ROA claimants would be required to apply for a C of E and OWP in the Mainland in order to be able to come to Hong Kong for settlement.
16. Mr Fred LI asked how frequent the special task force would meet and whether it planned to brief Members on the progress of work. S for S replied that the special task force would meet as and when required, but she envisaged that the special task force would initially meet quite frequently. She also said that Members would be briefed on the deliberations of the special task force periodically.
17. Mr LEE Kai-ming asked whether the special task force had set priorities in the provision of services for the new arrivals and whether a timetable had been drawn up for the Policy Bureaux concerned to formulate plans to cope with the impact of the new arrivals on existing programmes and services. S for S reiterated that the Policy Bureaux concerned would need to await the outcome of the findings of the C&SD survey before they were in a position to draw up medium and long term plans to cater for the intake of the new arrivals in the coming years.
18. Dr YEUNG Sum said that in discussing the implications of the CFA's judgment, there should not be too much speculation on the number of eligible Mainland residents and the adverse impact of their arrival on existing services, so as to avoid casting a negative light on these persons who would one day become permanent residents of the Hong Kong community.
19. Mrs Selina CHOW asked whether the special task force had considered Mr Ronald ARCULLI's earlier suggestion of putting in place some special arrangements whereby eligible Mainland residents could be allowed to go to Macau or Shenzhen in batches pending their orderly and lawful entry into Hong Kong. S for S replied that Mr ARCULLI's suggestion would be raised with the Mainland authorities.
20. Miss Margaret NG asked what steps the special task force would take next and when it would meet again. S for S replied that the Administration's first priority was to work out the new C of E application procedures. The special task force was expected to meet again following the D of Imm's return from his forthcoming trip to Beijing.
21. Dr LUI Ming-wah remarked that in assessing the implications of the CFA's judgment, the Administration should take into account the growing trend of Hong Kong residents marrying Chinese women in the Mainland. S for S noted Dr LUI's remark.
22. Mr NG Leung-sing expressed concern that "snakeheads" would step up their illegal activities in smuggling young Mainland children into Hong Kong once the weather got warmer. He enquired whether the Administration had made any plan to tackle the problem. S for S responded that the Administration would continue to work closely with the Mainland authorities to combat such illegal activities.
23. There being no further questions from members, the briefing ended at 3:45 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
10 March 1999