Date
23 September 2018
Hong Kong and mainland authorities have reached a consensus that in case of an emergency at the West Kowloon terminus, concerns over jurisdiction should always take a back seat to rescue efforts. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong and mainland authorities have reached a consensus that in case of an emergency at the West Kowloon terminus, concerns over jurisdiction should always take a back seat to rescue efforts. Photo: HKEJ

Emergency at West Kowloon terminus? You may dial 999 for help

The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) (Co-location) Ordinance (Cap 632) will officially come into effect on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

The ordinance stipulates that a person is considered being on mainland soil and automatically falls within the jurisdiction of mainland laws once he or she has entered the mainland customs and immigration areas, the station platforms or the compartments of both inbound and outbound trains within the West Kowloon terminus.

While the law itself lays down all the dos and don’ts about the co-location arrangement, there is still some concern among the public that grey areas may arise during the actual implementation of the arrangement after the Hong Kong section of the XRL officially enters service on Sept. 23.

To address such a concern, the HKSAR government has published a booklet, Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link Co-location Arrangement – What You Need to Know, which lists a number of scenarios in the form of FAQs to inform the public of matters requiring their attention as high-speed rail passengers or staff working within the Mainland Port Area (MPA).

For example, according to the booklet, if a passenger has an emergency when on board a train pending departure, he or she can still dial “999” to seek help, despite the fact that this individual is in the MPA that is theoretically already on mainland soil.

And when it receives such as a call for help, the Hong Kong Police Force, if it is necessary, will immediately hold a three-way telephone call with the person that needs help and the mainland law enforcement stationed within the terminus. The purpose is to work out together the quickest way to deal with the situation, according to a government source.

If a dispute among passengers, a fire or chaos breaks out within the MPA, the Hong Kong police will still send officers to help after having sought authorization from the mainland authorities, the source said.

However, the source stressed, even if Hong Kong police officers are allowed to enter the emergency scene, all that they can do is to offer help, or in the case of a crime, subdue the criminal, while the power to enforce the law and make arrests will rest entirely with the mainland law enforcement.

The source also said the SAR administration has carefully examined the co-location arrangement between Britain and France in order to draw insights. 

Hong Kong and mainland authorities have reached a consensus that in case of an emergency, concerns over jurisdiction should always take a back seat to rescue efforts, a principle that is also followed by British and French authorities.

Nevertheless, the SAR government expects some protesters may deliberately stir up trouble at the terminus in order to test the law enforcement mechanism under the co-location arrangement.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 31

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

JC/CG

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe