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Two surrender foreign passports to defuse row

Bonnie Chen

Friday, May 30, 2008


The row over the foreign citizenship of five recently appointed undersecretaries abated slightly yesterday when two of them gave up their foreign passports.

Undersecretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung said he has given up his Canadian passport while Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen has surrendered his BN(O) travel document.

The three others said they are considering their options and will make a decision before assuming office.

The case of undersecretaries having dual citizenship had raised questions about their loyalties. It also gave legislators the opportunity to accuse the government of being insensitive to public opinion. So said he had renounced his Canadian citizenship to dispel public concern about his loyalty and end the controversy.

"It was a tough decision. In doing so, I have also had to give up my legal practice qualification in Canada where I still have friends and relatives," he said, adding the Basic Law does not require him to renounce his foreign citizenship.

"My Canadian citizenship never changed the fact that I am Chinese."

So said at age 16 he had moved to Canada where he studied, got married and raised a family. But he returned to Hong Kong two decades ago.

So, the former vice chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he had never tried to conceal his Canadian citizenship.

Those yet to decide are Underse
cretary for the Environment Kitty Poon-kit, who holds a US passport; Undersecretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Julia Leung Fung- yee, who holds a BN(O) passport; and Undersecretary for Food and Health, Professor Gabriel Matthew Leung, who has a Canadian passport. The remaining three undersecretaries - Kenneth Chen Wei-on (education), Florence Hui Hiu-fai (home affairs) and Yau Shing-mu (transport and housing) - have HKSAR passports.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui- lung pointed out the Basic Law did not prevent undersecretaries from holding foreign passports. The fact that two had renounced their foreign citizenships showed they were willing to listen to public opinion, he said.


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