25th October 2013
How to Resolve the One-Way Permit Issue
By Elaine Lee
To resolve the overpopulation problem in Hong Kong , we must not rely solely on taking back the One-Way Permit approval right. We should, in fact, work around the One-Way Permit (OWP) system. China’s Ministry of Public Security holds the approval right of OWP, but this right has actually nothing to do with Hong Kong, meaning there is no legal foundation for Hong Kong to “take it back”. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in July this year that, “according to the Basic Law, China’s Ministry of Public Security is responsible for the application acceptance, approval and issuance of OWP, hence Hong Kong SAR Government cannot ‘take back’ or ‘fight for’ the approval right.”
To resolve the OWP issue, there is not need to take back the approval right of it. Article 22 of the Basic Law says, “For entry into the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, people from other parts of China must apply for approval. Among them, the number of persons who enter the Region for the purpose of settlement shall be determined by the competent authorities of the Central People’s Government after consulting the government of the Region.” Hence, to start with, Hong Kong can negotiate with the China Central Government about the quota of OWPs. Second, probably a more effective method and can be done within a short period of time, is to put everyone who wishes to emigrate to Hong Kong in a single “queue”, no matter what nationality they are and whatever reasons they give (including family reunion). Everyone in this “queue” will be under the same set of immigration laws, which means without approval given by Hong Kong, he is not eligible to emigrate to Hong Kong – Hong Kong’s right to approve immigration is Hong Kong’s internal affairs, which none of China’s authority can interfere.
In practice, each OWP applicant before submitting their OWP application (to China’s Ministry of Public Security), should apply for a (foreigner’s) Permit of Stay. This is exactly the same as any applicants with other nationalities who intend to move to Hong Kong. The two queues are merged into one. Once the applicant is granted a Permit of Stay by Hong Kong, he will then apply for his OWP and cancel his household registration.
Hong Kong SAR Government should be even more proactive in terms of setting a maximal population for Hong Kong, for example six million. Should the population goes above the set number, all approval of new immigrants will be suspended, regardless of nationality, identity, and reason of the individuals. Using the Permit of Stay system to regulate is laying a foundation for the population policy in Hong Kong. If Hong Kong cannot control the number of immigrants, an effective population policy can never be formulated. Without an effective population policy, other policies can never be implemented properly. Therefore, by appropriately utilising the immigration approval rights that we already is a foundation of all Hong Kong policies.
Of course, however, if Hong Kong SAR Government is only a branch of China Communist Party, and its mission is to ensure Hong Kong’s destruction, the above recommendation obviously is useless.
This article by Elaine Lee, a regular contributor to various newspapers and online media specialising on public affair commentaries, was submitted to Apple Daily on 13th October 2013. However, Apple Daily did not run this piece. No reason was given.