Transcript of remarks by Secretary for Security
Reporter: (Regarding the co-location arrangement for the XRL-HK section), is there no discussion leeway, and leeway for changes at all? How the Security Bureau implements immigration and also giving power to Mainland officers to clear all the concerns about the co-location plan right now.
Secretary for Security: We have explained more than once that we have no fallback plan. We believe that co-location arrangement is the best for our express railway. So that travelers can just get on at the West Kowloon station and be able to go to the different stations travelling all over the network. That is the best value that we create for the system.
We want travelers to be able to do everything once at the station at West Kowloon. Because we want to do that to enable our express railway to have its best value for Hong Kong, then we cannot adopt models such as having different pairs of stations co-locating at Hong Kong and Shenzhen; Hong Kong and Guangzhou; Hong Kong and Shanghai, because overseas experience indicated that if you want to do all these models of pairs, then you have to set up quite a number of pairs for our network, and that will hamper the efficiency and effectiveness of our express railway. So it is not a solution, we think, that will do good to what we try to do.
In regard to the application of the law at West Kowloon, because we want to do this clearance once and for all for travelers at West Kowloon, we have to allow Mainland officials to do the clearance as well. In order for them to do the clearance, I have to ensure that there is no security risk. There will be two security risks if I only allow Mainland officials to do their clearance just in accordance with CIQ (customs, immigration and quarantine) laws. Because for things beyond CIQ laws, they will have no power, then it means Hong Kong officers will have to execute those powers, and because of this overlapping of law, it will be overlapping of jurisdictions. When you have overlapping jurisdictions, then I will be facing a security risk in which a Mainland offender once has bought a ticket, having arrived at West Kowloon, he can challenge the authority of Mainland officials in sending him back to Mainland.
Because of overlapping jurisdictions, that will mean the courts in Hong Kong may accept his challenge. How long the challenge will last? That is the first uncertainty. And if he has successfully challenged the authority of the Mainland officials, then he will be stranded in Hong Kong because he has committed no offence in Hong Kong. And we have no surrender of fugitive agreement with the Mainland, then a criminal will be stranded here. That is a big risk to me.
Besides we have a lot of non-refoulement claims, who according to the present law, once they are in the geographical area of Hong Kong then we must accept their claims. At the present moment, we have already 8,000 such claims. In the two years of 2015 to 2016, we had something like 6,000 non-Chinese illegal immigrants coming from China. And in those two years, 5,000 of them made the claims. So if there is overlapping jurisdiction, it is likely the number of non-refoulement claims will rise. That is the second security risk I must guard against. Our present arrangement of co-location where we differentiate the two port areas, so that the Mainland officials will only do their clearance in the Mainland port area. We can ensure that there is a clear delineation of laws and jurisdictions, so those two risks will be guarded.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Sunday, August 6, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:38
Issued at HKT 20:38