Pan-dems to push China co-location

Local | Sum Lok-kei 26 Sep 2017

Keep co-location but do it at a mainland express rail station, the pan-democrats' co-location concern group said.

At a meeting last Sunday, group members voted among themselves to support one of seven co-location suggestions including the government's proposal to set up co-location facilities in Hong Kong.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong said yesterday that over two- thirds of the members supported an alternative proposal, which is to move co-location facilities to one or more mainland stations.

Instead of setting up a Mainland Port Area at the West Kowloon terminus, the group urged the SAR and mainland governments to move immigration and clearance arrangements to Futian, Shenzhen North or Guangzhou South station.

Under this proposal, passengers from Hong Kong will board an express rail train and get off at a mainland station with co-location facilities. "This is the real Shenzhen Bay Port model," Chan said.

At Shenzhen Bay Port, an area on mainland soil is leased to Hong Kong to set up its immigration checkpoint.

Concern group member Leung Kai- chi said those stations have the floor area for setting up relevant facilities. "Do not underestimate the space available inside mainland railway stations," he said, adding that there are some 20 platforms at Shenzhen North station that can handle the extra traffic.

If the joint port is set up in the mainland, Leung said there would be no risks of harming the "one country, two systems" principle.

As for the area within the Hong Kong terminus reserved for the Mainland Port Area, Leung said it could be leased to retailers to generate revenue to cover the costs of operating the railway and create more jobs.

He also said travel time for short- distance travelers is unlikely to differ.

Former lawmaker Edward Yiu Chung-yim said there was an incentive for the SAR government to adopt the group's proposal. The government's "three-step approach" is likely to take a longer time to complete, as it will face legal challenges from civilians, Yiu said.

According to the government, its plan to realize co-location in Hong Kong will involve local legislation to enact a law similar to the Shenzhen Bay Port Hong Kong Port Area Ordinance, which may face fierce opposition from the pan-dems.

The Mainland Port Area is over 100,000 square meters and is planned in the West Kowloon Terminus. It will cover the express rail platforms and mainland immigration checkpoints at West Kowloon. Inside the MPA, mainland authorities will enforce national laws and conduct clearance work.

However, Yiu said if the port is on mainland soil, the bill might be passed in a few months' time.

Chan said the group will ask to meet Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, as well as transport and security chiefs to propose their plan.

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