|LCQ3: Facilitating communication with the Central Authorities
Following is a question by Hon Lau Wai-hing Emily and an oral reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 30):
It has been reported that state leaders will visit Hong Kong during the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. On the other hand, a number of people from the pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong (including 10 odd Members of this Council) have for years been denied issuance of the Home Visit Permits (HVPs) by the mainland authorities, and hence are unable to go to the Mainland. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council whether:
(a) they have assessed if the Central Authorities' forbidding representatives of public opinion in Hong Kong to go to the Mainland and refusing to hold dialogues with them will hinder communication between China and Hong Kong and undermine the image of the Central Authorities in the heart of the people of Hong Kong; if they have and the assessment result is in the affirmative, whether they have reflected such situations to the Central Authorities;
(b) they have proposed to the Central Authorities that the state leaders should meet with all Members of this Council during their visit to Hong Kong to discuss issues of mutual concern; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(c) they have urged the Central Authorities to expeditiously issue HVPs to those Chinese nationals who are currently denied issuance of HVPs; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
In response to the question raised by the Honourable Emily Lau, our overall reply is as follows.
All along, we appreciate that different political parties would wish to have more opportunities to understand developments in the Mainland. Hence, we have made use of suitable opportunities to make arrangements on various occasions for Legislative Council (LegCo) Members of different political parties and groups, including those of the opposition camp, to meet the officials of Central Authorities and to make study visits to the Mainland. Some of recent examples include:
(a) in September 2005, the Chief Executive and LegCo Members of various political parties and groups visited the Pearl River Delta;
(b) in December 2005, when the community was discussing the 2007/08 electoral package put forth by the Government, we made arrangements for members from different sectors of the community, including LegCo Members of the opposition camp, to attend the forum on constitutional development of Hong Kong in Shenzhen, and to reflect their views to the relevant departments of the Central Authorities;
(c) in March 2007, the Security Bureau arranged a study visit to Shenzhen Bay Port for LegCo Members who participated in scrutinizing the Bill relating to the "co-location arrangement" and those from the relevant LegCo Panels to see for themselves the facilities at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor.
In accordance with the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", the Mainland authorities are responsible for the immigration matters of the Mainland, and the arrangements for issuing home visit permits. The HKSAR Government should respect the relevant systems and arrangements.
In overall terms, the HKSAR Government hope that members of different political parties and groups can enhance their understanding of the Mainland, but this would hinge on efforts to be made by all parties concerned.
Ends/Wednesday, May 30, 2007