The case of Siu Yau-wai, a boy who recently returned to the mainland after staying illegally in Hong Kong for nine years, is getting more and more puzzling.
Someone must be lying. It could be Siu’s grandmother Chow Siu-shuen, who had hidden the 12-year-old boy in the city, legislator Chan Yuen-han who made the case public to put pressure on the government to allow the boy to stay, or even the Immigration Department.
Even Siu’s so-called “voluntary repatriation” could have been carried out without following normal procedures.
Based on what we already know, it is without question that Siu’s grandmother was lying. However, it appears she wasn’t involved in any falsification of identity documents as was reported by media earlier on.
Since Siu entered Hong Kong on a two-way permit, what the grandmother did was to aid and abet the breaching of her grandson’s conditions of stay. That constitutes a lesser crime than forgery of documents.
But rather intriguingly, the Immigration Department so far hasn’t commented on the details of Siu’s case, nor has it clarified false media reports about the use of false documents and his “voluntary repatriation”.
Among the parties involved, Chan Yuen-han appears to be the most suspicious.
As a seasoned lawmaker, Chan has probably handled hundreds of thousands of requests for help from the public over the years. She definitely knows the drill.
This begs the question: Had Chan ever looked into Siu’s case carefully before she agreed to offer help?
If she hadn’t done so then that would have been pure negligence on her part.
However, if Chan still chose to make the case public in such a high-profile manner in order to put pressure on the Immigration Department to make an exception, even though she knew Siu and his grandmother were lying, then what she did would have constituted not only abuse of power, but also aiding and abetting fraud or even obstruction of justice.
If so, she must be held accountable and brought to justice immediately.
In fact, all Chan needed to do was to check with the Immigration Department to verify the boy’s identity and find out whether what Siu and his grandmother said was true.
However, if she still called a press conference and put Siu in the spotlight, even though she knew his grandmother was making up stories, then the only possible explanation is that the whole thing was nothing but a carefully planned publicity stunt through which Chan was attempting to gain favor with new immigrants and win their votes in the upcoming elections by helping a “poor little” undocumented mainland child to gain the right of abode in Hong Kong.
Ironically, however, Chan’s plan seemed to have backfired, as many members of the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) in the North West New Territories filed complaints against her act. They probably did that out of their own selfishness and xenophobic sentiment.
But the case also suggests that Chan has seriously underestimated the influence of the rise of “nativism” on the political atmosphere in Hong Kong.
It might also suggest that some young and ambitious political hopefuls in the FTU who are so eager to get the top job are not afraid of going to great lengths to challenge old party leaders such as Chan, who has occupied her Legislative Council seat for so many years.
It is estimated that there are currently more than 30 mainland-born children in Hong Kong who share a similar situation with Siu, and all of whom have been granted “recognizance forms” or “walk-free permits”, under which they are allowed to stay temporarily pending investigation.
For some unknown reasons, Chan chose to bring Siu to media attention and called for leniency in order to generate a buzz. Then the Immigration Department, Education Bureau, Housing Department and even the Labour and Welfare Bureau quickly rallied in support of Chan.
This makes us wonder if the whole event was a big act carefully planned and orchestrated by indigenous communists and the Hong Kong government to test the waters.
Could it be that they wanted to gauge the public reaction to allowing undocumented mainland children to stay in Hong Kong, paving the way for further integration between our city and the mainland?
In fact, the entire incident was a bizarre farce, and nobody knows how the case will end up.
Perhaps he might disappear for good, which might be in the best interest of all the parties involved, including the shameless politicians, the government and the mainland customs.
Given the notoriously short attention span of the local media, Siu’s case may be forgotten very soon, and the indigenous faction might then claim credit for his repatriation.
After that everything will be business as usual, and Hong Kong will just continue to deteriorate.
The article first appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 10.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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