Public views on co-location needed: Tien

Local | Amy Nip 20 Mar 2017

The Hong Kong public should be consulted about the co-location immigration clearance plan for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link as soon as possible before the government takes it to the Legislative Council, lawmaker Michael Tien Puk- sun said.

Tien said for the plan to go forward, widespread public support for a co- location arrangement in Hong Kong is a necessity, not only local legislation. It would be a "big problem" if it is Beijing that unilaterally imposes such an arrangement on Hong Kong, he warned.

Discussions between Hong Kong and mainland authorities have failed to be concluded over the years due to political and legal considerations for each side, he said.

Co-location clearance has been practiced at the Shenzhen Bay border point, where Hong Kong was leased a part of Shenzhen. Hong Kong authorities are allowed to enforce Hong Kong laws there.

It was suggested that the express link co-location plan can take reference from Shenzhen Bay, so that a zone would be created in Hong Kong for mainland authorities.

But the argument lies in how big the zone should be, and to what extent mainland authorities should be allowed to enforce the laws inside the zone.

"If there are terrorists or separatists, [keeping the rail under Hong Kong jurisdiction] would open up a gap in that people would try to get on the rail to Hong Kong," Tien said. "If Hong Kong police arrest him, he would be put on trial in Hong Kong. What about after the trial? Should he return to the mainland or not?

"He would apply for lawyer representation and make claims about human rights. That would take a few years from what I heard, mainland authorities cannot find answers to those questions."

There are also political implications if the power of mainland law enforcers is to be limited.

Many provincial governments are unhappy about Hong Kong getting many privileges, and it would be hard for Beijing to face mainlanders if they agreed on the concession, he said.

As for Hong Kong, the government wants to limit the power of mainland legal enforcers as it would make the plan less controversial and easier to be passed in Legco.

Tien did not see much problem in creating a zone covering the whole express rail to the point of mainland immigration clearance.

He argued that Hongkongers should support the plan and actively voice their demand for co-location. That would facilitate the plan's passing in Legco.

"It is most important to have Hongkongers voice out and ask for it. If the mainland imposed it here, it would be a huge problem," he said.

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