Following is a question by the Dr Hon Kenneth Chan Ka-lok and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (March 27):
On the 8th of this month, several Hong Kong reporters were assaulted by a group of unidentified persons in the course of news coverage in Beijing. On the same day, a Hong Kong resident was forcibly taken away on the street in Beijing. After returning to Hong Kong on the 10th of this month, the Hong Kong resident said that he had been deported by the mainland authorities on the ground that he had committed the crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles, and the staff of the Office of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Beijing (Beijing Office) had neither contacted him nor provided him with any support while he was remanded in custody. Regarding the work of the offices of the HKSAR Government on the Mainland (the Mainland Offices), particularly their provision of support to Hong Kong residents in distress on the Mainland, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of Hong Kong residents who sought assistance from and the number of such cases (together with a breakdown by the issue requiring assistance) received by each Mainland Office in the past three years; of the procedure for the Mainland Offices to follow up such cases, as well as the results of their follow-up efforts;
(b) in relation to the incident in which the Hong Kong resident was remanded in custody and deported, whether the Government, including the Beijing Office, had taken any action to assist him; if it had, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(c) in relation to the incident of Hong Kong reporters being assaulted, whether the Beijing Office had taken any action to support the reporters; if it had, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(d) whether the authorities will conduct a review of the staff establishment and functions of the Mainland Offices in order to strengthen their support for Hong Kong residents in distress on the Mainland; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(e) given that Hong Kong residents make increasingly frequent visits to the Mainland, whether the authorities will consider taking additional measures and stepping up publicity to let members of the public know the channels through which they may seek assistance from the Government in case of emergency on the Mainland, as well as the functions of the Mainland Offices; if so, of the details of the relevant measures; if not, the reasons for that?
At present, Immigration Divisions have been established in the Office of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Beijing (Beijing Office) and the Economic and Trade Office of the Government of the HKSAR in Guangdong (Guangdong ETO). The two Divisions are staffed by officers of the Immigration Department to provide practical assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress in the Mainland. With the input of the Security Bureau and relevant departments, we set out below the replies to the different parts of the question.
(a) The number of requests for assistance received by the Beijing Office and Guangdong ETO in the past three years is set out in Annex. As the nature and complexity of these cases vary, the two Mainland Offices do not keep statistics breakdown on the basis of the results of these cases.
(b) Upon being notified of the incident as mentioned in part (b) of the question, the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU) of the Immigration Department has immediately liaised with the relevant Mainland authorities through the Immigration Division of the Beijing Office to understand the matter.
(c) As soon as the Beijing Office was aware of the incident as mentioned in part (c) of the question, it immediately liaised with the reporters concerned to see if they required any assistance and contacted the relevant Mainland authorities to look into the situation. The Beijing Office understands that the reporters concerned have reported the case to the Police in the Mainland and the case is under investigation. The Beijing Office will continue to closely liaise with the relevant Mainland authorities and keep in view the development.
(d) The HKSAR Government will review the establishment and operation of the Immigration Divisions of the Mainland Offices from time to time, with a view to providing practical assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress in the Mainland.
In the 2013 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced the plan to set up an Immigration Division in the Economic and Trade Office of the Government of the HKSAR in Chengdu in order to enhance the provision of assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress in the Western Region in the Mainland.
(e) The Immigration Department has published a promotion leaflet called "Guide to Assistance Services to Hong Kong Residents in the Mainland", setting out the services and relevant information available to Hong Kong residents in distress in the Mainland, as well as the scope of assistance that can be provided by the Government of the HKSAR. The relevant information has been uploaded to the websites of GovHK, Immigration Department and all the Mainland Offices. The Immigration Department also promotes the 24-hour hotline (852)1868 operated by the AHU via different channels (including Announcement of Public Interest on television and radio broadcast, websites of Immigration Department and all the Mainland Offices, promotional leaflets, and the mobile platform "GovHK notifications", etc.).
Ends/Wednesday, March 27, 2013