The United Kingdom provides visa seekers the reasons in the event the applications are rejected, the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong said on Monday, amid a controversy surrounding the Hong Kong government’s move to deny visa renewal for Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the consulate said it noticed attempts had been made recently to draw comparisons between the decision by the Hong Kong government not to explain why it denied the application for renewal of the work visa of Mallet, and the British government’s decisions to “refuse named individuals entry to the UK”.
The comparisons are wrong, the consulate said, pointing out that, when it comes to the British government, if “an individual is denied entry” or “a visa application is refused”, the person is “notified of the reasons behind the decision” so that the applicants can consider if they “have grounds for appeal”.
According to a hk01.com report, in a radio program on Oct. 8, three days after Mallet was told by the Immigration Department that he could no longer work in Hong Kong, Tam Yiu-chung, the sole Hong Kong member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, China’s top legislative body, said Hong Kong’s Director of Immigration doesn’t have to provide explanations for visa denials, claiming the British government had adopted the same before the handover in 1997.
A day after Tam’s allegation, lawmaker Michael Luk Chung-hung from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions posted a picture on his Facebook page wherein he compared Mallet’s case to the cases of visa denials in the UK of Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi and far-right activist Lauren Southern, when the two were denied entry to Britain in 2009 and 2018 respectively.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the US Consulate General in Hong Kong, and the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao said the Hong Kong government should explain why Mallet’s work visa application was rejected, but authorities insisted that no reasons are normally given for visa rejections.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told media earlier that it is in line with international practice that explanations for work visa-application decisions are not made public.
Lam said in a media session last week that, in keeping with the rule both locally and internationally, the Immigration Department will not disclose the individual circumstances of Mallet’s case or the considerations of the decision.
In related news, pro-democracy lawmakers planned to move a motion, invoking Article 73 of the Basic Law, to request Lam and some other officials to attend a Legislative Council meeting on Oct. 24.
The pan-dem lawmakers plan to ask the officials to testify over the Mallet visa denial decision.
However, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung wrote a letter to Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen on Friday, saying summoning individuals concerned to attend a Legco meeting and provide evidence based on Article 73 of the Basic Law was not appropriate because Article 73 does not apply to the chief executive.
Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convener of the pan-democrats’ meeting group of lawmakers, said pan-democrats have agreed, after discussions, to remove the wording related to summoning the chief executive.
Mo, however, criticized the government for trying to oppose the motion bid, accusing the administration of acting out of political reasons.
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