The Hong Kong government is facing calls for a probe after US authorities alleged that Huawei’s global chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, who has been arrested in Canada earlier this month and is facing extradition to the US, possessed as many as three Hong Kong passports, apart from some issued by China.
The Immigration Department needs to conduct an investigation as to how Meng may have had more than one HKSAR passport, a legal scholar and a pan-democratic lawmaker said.
If the US allegations are true about multiple Hong Kong passports for one particular individual, it is a matter of serious concern as the issue at stake is the credibility of a HKSAR passport, they said, calling for a probe into the matter.
The comments by Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a principal lecturer at the Department of Law of the University of Hong Kong, and Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who is deputy chairman of the Legislative Council panel on security, came after the US Department of Justice revealed in court documents that Meng had at least seven passports, including four issued by China and three by Hong Kong.
All of the passports had been used by the Huawei executive to enter and depart the United States in the past 11 years, the department’s Office of International Affairs said in filings in a Canadian court, suggesting that Meng was a flight risk.
The office also said that it is possible that Meng may have possessed some passports which the US government was not aware of, other than the seven discovered ones.
The revelations have led to Hong Kong’s Immigration Department, which is responsible for passport issuance in the territory, facing heat, with observers wondering how a single person was issued three passports.
In response to media inquiries, the department said in a press release Sunday night that it does not comment on individual cases.
But it stressed that no person can possess more than one valid HKSAR passport any time.
According to a spokesman, a HKSAR passport holder who applies for a replacement passport will have to produce the existing one to the department for cancellation upon collection of the new one.
If the cancelled passport bears a valid visa, applicants may apply to cross link it with the new passport upon application for replacement.
The department did not directly respond as to whether an investigation will be launched into the allegation that Meng held multiple HKSAR passports at the same time, the Hong Kong Economic journal reports.
Cheung said on Friday that data from the US Department of Justice showed Meng did not use her latest HKSAR passport but the one issued earlier when she entered the US the last time.
That raises the possibility that Meng may have been issued a fresh passport without the previous one getting invalidated.
Cheung also suspects that all of the passports allegedly held by Meng were issued within a short period since all the three passport numbers started with “KJ”.
Commenting on the Meng issue, New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who is a former secretary for security, said there is currently insufficient information to pass any judgment or say anything with certainty.
Some of the HKSAR passports that Meng possesses may be invalid, expired or damaged, Ip suggested.
Lai Tung-kwok, another former security chief, pointed out it is not uncommon to see one person possess several HKSAR passports but the most important thing is there can only be one valid HKSAR passport.
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