Superstar Liza Wang Ming-chuen, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, yesterday suggested the central government grant 24 pro-democracy lawmakers home visit permits.
"CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin said we should unite people from different sectors - why not include the democrats as well?" Wang asked.
The TV star, speaking at a small group discussion meeting in Beijing, said it was now good timing, in view of the Beijing Olympic Games, for the central government to allow pro- democracy lawmakers to enter the mainland.
"I believe many of them would like to come watch the Olympic Games. Perhaps they will be touched and will transform into patriots," she said.
"As a CPPCC member, I have the responsibility to reflect opinions in society," Wang said, adding that lawmakers should learn more about their motherland by visiting.
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong chairman Tam Yiu-chung said many people would like to see the Beijing Olympics, but added: "It is not a good reason for changing what the central government used to do."
Tam also suggested allowing all lawmakers to visit the mainland again as they had on a trip to Guangdong in 2004. Pan-democrats welcomed Wang's suggestion but some were not confident it would be accepted.
"The issue of a home visit permit to us is such a rightful thing, but it has never been mentioned by any [politician] but a performer," Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said.
Ho said he appreciates Wang's efforts but doubted he would get a permit as he had not sensed any change in attitude from the central government.
The League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung said having a home visit permit was a right proscribed from them.
He said moderate pan-democrat members - those who are not members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China - may have a better chance of getting the permit.
The Civic Party's Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a pan-democrat with a home visit permit, supports Wang's suggestion and said the issue would be the first sign of normalized relations between the central government and pan-democrats.
"The Legislative Council is a lawful organization under the Basic Law. Its members deserve respect from the [central] authorities," he said.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen met officials from three northeastern provinces after attending the National People's Congress opening session yesterday. A spokeswoman said he will lead a business delegation visiting three provinces later this year.
He dined with Guangdong provincial party secretary Wang Yang and governor Huang Huahua. He will also meet public security chief Meng Jianzhu and commerce minister Chen Deming.