Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1381
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref. :CB2/PL/SE/1

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Security

Minutes of Meeting held on Thursday, 19 February 1998 at 2:30 pm in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP (Chairman)
Hon CHENG Kai-nam (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Henry WU
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon KAN Fook-yee Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok

Members attending :

Hon LEE Kai-ming

Members absent :

Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP] other commitments
Hon CHAN Choi-hi]

Public Officers attending :

Item III

Mr Raymond WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 1

Mrs Carrie WILLIS
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security A

Mr TSE Chan-fai
Border District Commander
Hong Kong Police Force

Item IV

Mr Raymond WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 1

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E

Mr Gordon FUNG
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime)
Hong Kong Police Force

Item V

Mr Raymond WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 1

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E

Mr Michael HORNER
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality)
Hong Kong Police Force

Item VI

Mr Raymond WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 1

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E

Mr Gordon FUNG
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime)
Hong Kong Police Force

Chief Telecommunication Engineer
Hong Kong Police Force

Item VII

Ms Sally WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 3

Mr Raymond FAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security C

Mr WONG Tat-po
Assistant Director
Immigration Department


Ms Sally WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 3

Mr Raymond FAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security C

Mr WONG Tat-po
Assistant Director
Immigration Department

Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Sharon TONG
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 1

Staff in attendance:

Miss Betty MA
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1

I.Confirmation of minutes of meetings held on 18 December 1997
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 976)

1.The minutes were confirmed.

II. Date of next meeting and items for discussion

(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1017(01))

2. Members agreed to discuss the following items at the next meeting to be held on 19 March 1998:

  1. Report of the Security Panel for submission to the Provisional Legislative Council, in accordance with Rule 77(14) of the Rules of Procedure, at its meeting on 8 April 1998;

  2. Domestic violence cases;

  3. Protection of witness;

  4. Follow-up to issues of Vietnamese Refugees/Vietnamese Migrants/Vietnamese Illegal Immigrants; and

  5. Follow-up to cyanide spill incident in December 1997 - package of measures to improve the control on dangerous goods.

3. The Chairman said that, given the next Panel meeting would be the last one in this session, members were welcome to forward to the clerk items they would propose for discussion at the next meeting.

III. Policy on Frontier Closed Area and Closed Area permit
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1017(02)

4. The Chairman said that members who participated in the Panel's visit to the Closed Area on 12 February 1998 had acquired a general understanding of the Administration's policy on the Closed Area and arrangements for the issue of Closed Area permits (CAP). Deputy Secretary for Security 1 (DS/S(1)) then briefed members on the Administration's information paper. He pointed out that the present boundary of the Closed Area had been determined by reference to the topography, road and infrastructure network within the Area and access to police support facilities. The Administration had from time to time reviewed the need for the Closed Area and its coverage. The recent review carried out jointly by the Security Bureau, the Police, the Customs and Excise Department and the Immigration Department revealed that the need for the retention of the Closed Area remained and the coverage of the Closed Area had been found to be appropriate. Moreover, the Administration considered that any proposal to reduce the size of the Closed Area could give a wrong signal that the immigration policy had been changed after the reunification. This might be exploited by the snakeheads and resulted in an influx of illegal immigrants from the Mainland. As regards the policy on CAP, DS/S(1) informed members that the Police was reviewing the CAP system with a view to increasing its transparency, improving communication with applicants and providing a review mechanism for dealing with rejected cases.

5. Mr LAU Kong-wah enquired whether the Police had tightened its policy on CAPs since the transfer of sovereignty. District Commander, Border District (DC/Border) replied that there had been no change to the policy on CAP. CAPs were issued on a need basis. Applicants meeting the eligibility criteria would be issued with resident permits (for residents of the Closed Area and indigenous villagers of the Closed Area) or visitor permits. He further said that only 159 out of over 48,000 applications were rejected in 1997. Only slightly more than 10 complaints about delays in issuing CAPs were received. He explained that the Police might need a longer period to verify the particulars of some applicants.

6. In response to a further question from Mr LAU Kong-wah about the validity of CAPs, DC/Border advised that resident permits, valid up to five years, would be issued to residents of the Closed Area. However, a permit which was valid for a period of up to 6 months would be issued in the first place to those newly moved into the Area. The validity of the permits would then be reviewed and extended when the newcomers were able to prove that they actually resided in the Closed Area. Regarding residents who had moved out of the Area, visitor permits which were valid from one year to three years would be issued to them having regard to their need to visit relatives and the frequency of such visits to the Closed Area. Visitor permits with a longer valid period would be issued on a case by case basis.

7. Responding to Mr CHEUNG Hon-chung, DC/Border said that the criteria adopted for issuing CAPs were based on the needs of the applicants. CAPs would be issued once the applicants could provide justifiable reasons in supporting their applications. He further said that consideration was being given to extending the maximum validity of the resident permits from 5 years to 10 years.

8. Mr CHEUNG Hon-chung criticized the disparity in policy between granting permission to the indigenous villagers and residents of the Closed Area to visit Chung Ying Street. DC/Border said that under the existing policy, residents of the Closed Area were not allowed to visit Chung Ying Street on their resident permits. However, he advised that a review was underway in consultation with the law enforcement agencies in the Mainland to examine whether both the indigenous villagers and residents of the Closed Area would be allowed to visit Chung Ying Street on their resident permits, taking into account the availability of manpower and resources on both sides.

9. Responding to Mr Andrew WONG's question on whether a timetable for the completion of the review could be drawn up, DS/S(1) agreed to advise in writing. Adm

10. Mr Howard YOUNG opined that he fully understood the difficulties encountered by the Police in carrying out access control duties in Chung Ying Street and would lend his support for funding proposal in respect of access control improvement measures, such as the erection of fences along the area. He then enquired whether the Administration would consider allowing guided tours organized by the Tourist Association to visit Chung Ying Street so as to boost the tourist industry in Hong Kong upon the completion of access control improvement works in the locality. DS/S(1) responded that the Police had to take into account the terrain in determining where to erect fences and its effectiveness would need to be reviewed. He therefore considered that it would be premature to study the proposal at this stage. DC/Border added that the indigenous villagers and residents of the Closed Area would need to be consulted in this regard as an additional closed area would be resulted within the Closed Area.

11. In response to further questions from the Chairman, DC/Border advised that the viability of relaxing the access control to Chung Ying Street would be decided after the discussion with the relevant authorities in the Mainland regarding arrangements on the security control was concluded. He pointed out that an effective boundary control would have to be relied on the frequent patrols by both the Police and the law enforcement agencies in the Mainland.

12. Responding to Mr CHEUNG Hon-chung, DS/S(1) said that apart from the Closed Area policy, the Administration had in place other anti-illegal immigration measures such as the use of technical aids, frequent patrols by the Police. To step up its efforts in combating illegal immigration, the Administration had earlier submitted funding proposal to the Finance Committee for procuring and installing a replacement cable sensor along the boundary. Regarding the disestablishment of the Closed Area as a solution to inadequate land supply, DS/S(1) said that only about 10% of the total area of North district and 2% of the total area of Yuen Long within the Closed Area were suitable for development. The Area was sparsely populated. Coupled with a lack of transport infrastructure, the Administration was of the view that disestablishment of the Closed Area might not be a cost-effective solution to the land supply problem in Hong Kong. DS/S(1) added that the current delineation of the boundary of the Closed Area had been determined to a large extent by reference to the topography within the Area and the vantage operational points available to the Police. It was therefore considered that moving the southern boundary of the Closed Area northward would negate the security advantages now enjoyed by the Police. The Administration considered it important to maintain the Closed Area to provide an effective buffer zone for the security forces to operate against illegal immigration. Hence, it had no plan to reduce the area covered by the Closed Area. Nevertheless, the Administration would continue to monitor the effectiveness of the Closed Area and review the need for its retention and its coverage from time to time, taking into account any changes in circumstances.

13. To conclude the discussion, the Chairman summarized members’ views for the consideration by the Administration as follows : Adm

  1. The arrangements on the issue of CAPs should be further examined to ensure a unified and consistent system. Leaving too much discretion to individual officers might give rise to inconsistency. A review mechanism for dealing with rejected cases should be introduced as soon as possible.

  2. The disparity in treatment between indigenous villagers and residents of the Closed Area on their visit to Chung Ying Street should be removed.

  3. The coverage of the Closed Area should be re-examined with a view to achieving an effective use of land resources. The Administration could step up other measures to combat illegal immigration activities.

IV.Progress report on implementation of Working Group's proposal on Law Reform Commission Report on Arrest

(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1017(03))

14. DS/S(1) briefed members on the content of the PLC Paper, which updated the present position regarding the progress of implementing the proposals of the Interdepartmental Working Group (WG) on the Law Reform Commission (LRC) Report on Arrest. He informed members that the Administration had decided to implement the WG's proposals in a phased manner over the next three years. Improvement measures to be implemented were listed in paragraphs 5 and 6 of the PLC Paper.

15. Mrs Elsie TU noted from paragraph 6(e) of the PLC Paper that additional safeguards had been provided to children and young persons under arrest and enquired whether additional safeguards would also be provided for the mentally handicapped as well as "coloured" persons under arrest. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) (ACP (Crime)) replied that assistance provided for the mentally handicapped under the age of 16 would be in line with those available for children and young persons under the age of 16. In the event of language problem arose, an interpreter would be provided in the course of questioning and taking of statement.

16. Mr Kennedy WONG opined that the formulation of legislation to bring greater certainty on the length of detention and provide accountable review of the need for longer periods of detention was one of the major recommendations made by the WG. He queried the lead time taken for drafting the relevant legislation and urged the Administration to expedite its action in this regard. In reply, Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E (PAS/(E)) said that the Administration was adopting a phased approach in implementing the recommendations by the WG. Having examined the recommendations carefully, the Administration considered the introduction of legislation on the taking of intimate and non-intimate samples of suspects was of utmost importance to tackle serious crimes and thus priority was accorded to. He pointed out that the proposal to appoint "Custody Officers" and "Review Officers" was another major improvement proposed by the WG which would be implemented in 1998. He shared the point that the length of detention was equally important and undertook to review whether the drafting of the relevant legislation could be speeded up. ACP (Crime) added that despite the proposed legislation on the length of detention would not be introduced in 1998, the current practice adopted by the Police was that the length of detention normally would not exceed 48 hours. The detainees would either be taken before the courts or released on bail within 48 hours after their arrest. Adm

17. In response to the Chairman's enquiry, DS/S(1) said that at least one Video-Interview Room (VIR) would be set up in every major divisional Police station after a total of 60 VIRs had been made available to the Police by the end of 1998. The Administration had to take into consideration the availability of suitable venue in each police station as well as resources in determining the viability of providing one VIR in each police station. ACP (Crime) added that, in accordance with the internal guidelines of the Police Force, VIRs would be used on a sharing basis among different bureaux in a police station or among several police stations whenever needs arose.

V. Issues of fabrication of evidence by police officers

(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1017(04))

18. In brief, PAS/(E) advised members of the mechanism in place to prevent the occurrence of cases of Police officers framing innocent persons, namely -

  1. enhancing the quality of Police officers through careful recruitment; enshrining "integrity and honesty" in the Force's culture; taking a serious view on Police officers framing innocent persons and instituting criminal / disciplinary action against officers concerned by the senior management;

  2. examination of all evidence by the Department of Justice before they were put to court for a fair and independent trial;

  3. investigation of all fabrication of evidence "FOE" complaints by the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), which was a unit separated from the rest of the Police Force. All investigations conducted by CAPO were subject to vigorous scrutiny by the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) before they were endorsed;

  4. taking follow-up actions in respect of cases where the courts had made unfavourable comments on the statements taken or made by the Police officers during the trial; and

  5. being an open society with various channels of complaints open to the public, any grievances would receive appropriate attention.

19. In reply to Mr CHENG Kai-nam, PAS(E) informed members that the number of complaints received by the Police concerning Police officers framing innocent persons were: 272 in 1995 which represented 5.9% of the total number of complaints endorsed in the year; 363 in 1996 which represented 7.2% of the total number of complaints endorsed in the year; and 327 in 1997 which represented 7.3% of the total number of complaints endorsed in the year. He, however, remarked that the cases might not be substantiated after subsequent investigations.

20. Mr Andrew WONG was concerned whether there had been any significant increase in the number of complaints received by the Police relating to false accusations of assault after the handover and requested for the relevant statistics. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality) (ACP(SQ) advised that the Police had not kept separate statistics according to pre- and post-handover period. He pointed out, for members’ reference, that the total number of complaints received by the Police in January 1998 had decreased by 23% when compared with that in January 1997. PAS/(E) added that the number of complaints received by the Police relating to assault were 1780, 1600 and 1189 in 1995, 1996 and 1997 respectively (figures which were endorsed by IPCC for investigations done).

21. In response to Mr Andrew WONG's further enquiry, ACP(SQ) assured members that the Police complaints system was one with checks and balances. The IPCC was responsible for monitoring and reviewing investigation of complaints against the Police conducted by CAPO. CAPO would submit a full report on its investigation of the complaint to the IPCC. The findings of CAPO investigations were subject to the endorsement by IPCC. He made reference to two separate cases in 1996, in which Police officers concerned were criminally charged as a result of the investigations conducted by CAPO which revealed some doubts on the adequacy or discrepancies of the investigations. DS/S(1) said that the Force management had determined to enshrine the ethics and values among Police officers through the organization of training courses and seminars. The Force had no place for those officers who used illegal means to tackle crimes. He urged members of the public to lodge complaints should they be treated unfairly and unlawfully in the course of investigations.

22. Mrs Elsie TU expressed serious concern about the way in which "FOE" complaints were handled by the Police especially those cases were convicted by the courts. ACP(SQ) said that every "FOE" complaint would be investigated. However, investigation would be withheld when a case was being considered by the court as the matter was now sub-judice. Investigation would be carried out subsequently irrespective of the outcome of the court case. He pointed out that very often the complainant would withdraw the complaint after he/she was acquitted by the court. But for convicted cases, it might be slightly difficult for the IPCC to overturn the court's decision given that it had the opportunity to hear evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defendant. Nevertheless, he assured members that all the details of evidence in support of each charge prepared by the officer in charge of the case would be reviewed and satisfied before the case was brought to the court. Should there be any indication of "FOE", an impartial investigator would be appointed to carry out a thorough investigation so that any wrongdoing of Police officers could be detected before bringing the case to court. In fact, a large number of "FOE" complaints endorsed by the IPCC were false cases. DS/S(1) added that evidence in respect of cases to District Court or above were scrutinized by a Government Counsel or above. During the court proceedings, the defence counsel could challenge that the evidence was being fabricated. Defendants who were allegedly framed by Police officers could have their allegations heard in the court. PAS/(E) pointed out that the prosecution would also look into the complaints lodged by the defendants.

23. Responding to Mrs Elsie TU's further question, ACP(QS) replied that a set of new procedures was introduced in 1997 under which tipping off from one Police officer to another officer about a complaint against a Police officer would be a disciplinary offence. For complaints regarded as minor and trivial such as impoliteness of Police officers, the cases would be referred to their respective divisions for further investigations. As for "FOE" cases, all the complaints would be investigated by CAPO. The division in which the Police officer being complained was working would be informed of the complaint and investigation accordingly. In serious cases, consideration is given to remove an officer from those duties which were being investigated.

24. Members were concerned whether the existing mechanism was adequate to deter the occurrence of "FOE" by Police officers and the penalty imposed for committing such an offence had sufficient deterrent effect. DS/S(1) advised that under the existing mechanism, Police officers were under close supervision of their respective supervisors in handling evidence. The strengthening of the complaints system would also provide a deterrent effect. To prevent "FOE" by Police officers, the Police Force considered the best way was to enhance the quality of Police officers through careful recruitment and training with a view to enshrining a high standard of ethics and values in the Force's culture in the long run. He further said that criminal proceedings would be instituted against those officers proven to be involved in "FOE" cases and they were liable to a maximum imprisonment term for 7 years. The penalty imposed was comparatively severe as opposed to other criminal offences. Disciplinary action would be considered if there was insufficient evidence to take criminal action.

25. Mr KAN Fook-yee expressed concern about the procedures adopted by the Police in determining whether prosecution should be instituted. ACP(QS) responded that the Duty Officer in the police station would decide the charge in respect of minor cases. For all other cases, the Inspector in charge of the crime investigation team would decide the charge. If there were any doubts about the sufficiency of evidence or the lack of independent evidence, the Department of Justice's advice would be sought. Moreover, the Court Prosecutors would examine if there was sufficient evidence before proceeding with the prosecution. On Mr KAN Fook-yee's question whether any mechanism was in place to review if prosecutions had been instituted imprudently, ACP(QS) said that the Police would look into each acquitted case in order to find out the reasons for the failure. In addition, the courts would award costs to the Police if they considered that the latter had brought the case improperly.

26. As members still had serious concern about the mechanism for handling "FOE" complaint cases, the Chairman suggested and members agreed to hold a special meeting to examine the issues in greater depth. To facilitate discussion, the Chairman requested the Administration to provide the following information : Adm

  1. the number of "FOE" complaint cases received by the Police and IPCC in the past three years; how these cases were dealt with, the number of such complaints found to be substantiated, the number of cases against which criminal/disciplinary proceedings had been instituted and the penalties imposed on the Police officers concerned;

  2. the details on the handling of "FOE" complaints which were sub-judice, the number and the outcome of such sub-judice cases in the past three years;

  3. how "FOE" cases acquitted/convicted by the courts were handled; and

  4. in the event of cases involving different members of public who blamed each other, of the criteria adopted in determining who to be released while the other to be charged?

(Post-meeting note : a special Panel meeting would be held on 12 March 1998 at 10:45 am)

VI. New Radio System for the Hong Kong Police Force

(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1017(05))

27. ACP(Crime) briefed members on the paper. He pointed out that the Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB) and the Narcotics Bureau (NB) of the Police Force were sharing one radio system to support their operations at the moment. Given that the system was introduced in 1980, it was ageing with frequent breakdowns. Moreover, the Police Force had also encountered increasing difficulty in obtaining spare parts for maintenance due to obsolescence of the system. In order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of CIB and NB in meeting their operational needs, the Police Force proposed to acquire a new radio system which amounted to $198 million. Subject to the Finance Committee's funding approval, the new radio system would be commissioned in September 2000.

28. In response to Mr LEE Kai-ming's question, CTE advised that there were about ten communication systems currently used by different bureaux of the Police Force. With regard to the tendering procedures, he said that open tender would be invited. The Police Force would select the most suitable vendor amongst the tenders.

29. In response to the Chairman and Mr KAN Fook-yee's enquiries in connection with the recurrent cost of the proposed system, CTE explained that radio licence fee should be payable to the Office of the Telecommunications Authority as it was now operated under the trading fund. The recurrent cost in respect of the average system maintenance and spares cost was estimated by making reference to the maintenance contract sum of the communication systems currently used by the Police Force. According to the statistics available, system maintenance and spares cost normally amounted to 3-5% of the non-recurrent cost of the system and the average life span of similar radio system was 12 years.

30. Referring to paragraph 2(c) of the paper, the Chairman expressed concern on the adequacy of the existing radio system on security protection against unauthorized access. ACP(Crime) said that having regard to the advanced technology and the fact that the existing radio system had been in use for 18 years, CIB and NB were facing the limitation that the current system had inadequate security protection against unauthorized access. To relieve the problem, Police officers of CIB and NB would use codes when communicated through the radio system.

31. Members indicated their support for the proposal.

VII. Application for settlement in Hong Kong by Mainland children who have the right of abode under the Basic Law
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1017(06))

32. Deputy Secretary for Security 3 (DS/S(3)) briefed members on the content of the PLC Paper, which set out the latest position as regards the admission of eligible children from the Mainland for settlement in Hong Kong. She informed members that the specified sub-quota for eligible children had been increased from 45 to 60 within the 150 One-way Permit (OWP) daily quota and that another 10 eligible children would be allowed to come to Hong Kong under the unspecified sub-quota. At this rate, it would take 2| years to clear the bulk of non-adult eligible children. A total of 10,388 children had entered Hong Kong under the Certificate of Entitlement (C of E) Scheme between 1 July 1997 and end of January 1998. DS/S(3) said that in the light of the serious implications of several recent court cases regarding the admissibility of eligible children from the Mainland for settlement in Hong Kong, the Administration had lodged appeals against the judgments. She pointed out that the implications of one of the judgments would be on the legality of the C of E Scheme, the retrospective effect of the Immigration (Amendment) (No.3) Ordinance 1997, and the question of illegitimacy. The Administration had lodged an appeal against the ruling on the part concerning illegitimacy. It would be heard by the Court of Appeal in early March 1998. She added that the Administration had made an appeal against another judgment which extended the right of abode to Chinese nationals of any age born outside Hong Kong, whose father or mother became Hong Kong permanent resident at any time after their birth. The Court of Appeal's ruling might result in a large number of such children in the Mainland being eligible for settlement in Hong Kong. The Administration had no statistics on persons affected by the ruling. She assured members that an orderly admission of eligible children would be ensured by means of the C of E Scheme and the daily sub-quota of 60 under the OWP quota system.

33. Some members expressed doubts on a number of issues relating to the granting of C of E. In response, the Administration made the following clarifications :


  1. under the C of E Scheme, all applications for settlement in Hong Kong had to be filed in the Mainland. The Scheme was introduced following discussions with the Mainland authorities so that eligible children would be allowed to enter Hong Kong in an orderly manner. To streamline the procedures, it was agreed that an application for OWP would be treated as an application for C of E simultaneously. Upon receipt of the applications submitted in the Mainland, the Director of Immigration would be requested to verify the status of eligible children and their parents in Hong Kong to ensure that they had the right of abode under the Basic Law (BL) Article 24(2)(3). A C of E would be issued to the successful applicant via the Mainland authorities. The applicant had to affix the certificate onto his/her valid One-way Permit.

  2. In normal circumstances, persons of Chinese nationality born outside Hong Kong (in places other than the Mainland) who claimed to have acquired the right of abode in Hong Kong could apply for identity cards. As regards members’ queries on any such persons had filed their applications in Hong Kong for the issue of a C of E, the Administration agreed to provide further information in writing.

  3. When a female Hong Kong permanent resident was away from Hong Kong temporarily during which time she gave birth to her child, the Director of Immigration might allow the entry of the new-born infant into Hong Kong with the mother upon application for an entry permit by the latter. This was because the mother was a legal resident of Hong Kong and could have given birth to her child in Hong Kong. In such case, the child would have residential rights in Hong Kong automatically. It was not appropriate to compare such cases with Mainland mothers who were not legal residents of Hong Kong and whose children could not normally be born in Hong Kong.

34. As regards the existing arrangement regarding the admission of eligible adult children from the Mainland who had the right of abode under BL 24(2)(3), some members made the following observations -

  1. For those adult children who came to Hong Kong on a Two-way Permit and overstayed, whether they could apply for permanent residency by claiming that they had acquired the right of abode under BL 24(2)(3) during the overstayed period.

  2. If those adult children mentioned in (a) above had to be repatriated, whether they were allowed to apply for OWPs in the Mainland and whether the Mainland authorities would impose any penalties on them upon their repatriation, such as prohibiting them from applying for OWPs.

  3. Whether the Administration had any information regarding the queuing system in respect of these adult children's applications for OWPs in the Mainland.

35. The Administration made the following points in response to members’ comments -

  1. The Administration did not encourage overstay. Thus, all the overstayers had to return to the Mainland and submit their applications for OWP and C of E in the Mainland.

  2. As far as the Administration was aware, those repatriated persons, who had the right of abode in Hong Kong under BL 24(2)(3), were allowed to queue up under the specified sub-quota assigned for eligible children.

  3. In order to avert an upsurge in the number of eligible children coming to Hong Kong for settlement, the Administration would continue to keep close contact with the Mainland authorities to ensure an orderly arrival of eligible children who had the right of abode in Hong Kong under BL 24(2)(3). The introduction of the Points System, which had enhanced the transparency on the criteria adopted in approving OWP applications, was one of the major improvements achieved through the meetings held with the Mainland authorities.

36. In response to Mr Bruce LIU's enquiry, DS/S(3) advised that a specified daily sub-quota of 60 within the 150 OWP daily quota were allocated to children of all ages who had the right of abode in Hong Kong under BL 24(2)(3). She cited, for instance, in January 1998, out of the 50 eligible children who were admitted to Hong Kong, four were children above the age of 20.

37. Referring to paragraph 7 of the PLC Paper, Mr IP Kwok-him expressed concern on the repercussions of the appeal if the Court handed down a judgment in those children's favour. DS/S(3) said that as the appeal was underway, it would not be appropriate for the Administration to make any comments concerning the case. She stressed that in any event the Administration did not anticipate an influx of such children into Hong Kong as they were still subject to the C of E Scheme and the specified sub-quota for eligible children under the OWP quota system for admission. However, members reminded the Administration not to underestimate the number of such eligible children and urged it to consider contingent measures while awaiting the Court's ruling. Adm

38. In response to Mr Howard YOUNG's enquiry, Assistant Director / Immigration Department (AD/ID) advised that adult children pending the court's decision on their residency had been released on recognisance and they would be removed from Hong Kong when the legal proceedings were concluded. In the circumstances, they were not allowed to take up employment in Hong Kong.

39. Mr Andrew WONG enquired about the criteria adopted in determining the making of removal orders against the overstayers. AD/ID advised that in principle all the overstayers would be removed from Hong Kong. The Immigration Department would, however, look into each case carefully before making a removal order. The Director of Immigration was empowered under the Immigration Ordinance to exercise her discretionary power to allow these persons to stay in Hong Kong on compassionate ground. Such exceptional permissions would be granted on a case by case basis. Any persons aggrieved by the decision of the Director could appeal to the Immigration Tribunal.

40. Mr CHENG Kai-nam, making reference to a case reported in a local newspaper, enquired under what circumstances Chinese residents coming in Hong Kong on employment visas could be granted permanent residency. AD/ID said that in accordance with the provisions in the Immigration Ordinance, persons who stayed in Hong Kong unlawfully did not have habitual residence in Hong Kong. Persons who were subject to conditions of stay were also normally not eligible for applying for permanent residency. For those coming in Hong Kong on employment visas, they had to apply for identity cards. If they had stayed in Hong Kong for a continuous period of seven years, they would be eligible for a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card issued in accordance with the law. As members were referring to an individual case, AD/ID agreed to look into the details of the case and provide further clarifications to members in writing. Adm

41.The Chairman requested the Administration to draw up a specific plan to assist eligible children, especially those over the age of 20, who had the right of abode in Hong Kong under BL 24(2)(3), to settle in Hong Kong as soon as possible. DS/S(3) assured members that the Administration would continue to keep close contact with the Mainland authorities and reflect to them local views on the subject. The Administration would continue to closely monitor the situation and conduct reviews from time to time to ensure speedy and orderly admission of eligible children. Adm

VIII. Entry visa for Taiwan visitors and visitors from overseas

(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1017(07))

42. Owing to time constraint, the item was deferred to the special meeting to be held on 12 March 1998.

IX. Close of meeting

43. The meeting ended at 5:20 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
20 March 1998