The Amnesty That Never Was
Conspiracy theorists must be having a field day
with this one. The answer was always easy: follow the money.
Let us start with the known 'facts':
- (SCMP) Chow Chung-yan and Felix
Chan. July 2, 2005.
Hundreds of Fujianese visitors were turned away by Hong Kong immigration authorities yesterday.
At least 320 visitors from the mainland had been turned away after being interviewed by immigration officers at the Huanggang checkpoint. Many more were rejected at the Lowu crossing.
Wei Po) July , 2005.
According to eyewitnesses at the scene, beginning 8am yesterday morning,
more than 100 Minnan-accented mainland travelers had gathered at the
immigration control after being turned back by Hong Kong authorities.
As the day moved on, there were more than three hundred such persons at the
Huanggang checkpoint. By 3pm, there had to be more than 1,000 such
persons, most of them being men between 20 to 40 years old from Fujian
Those are the known facts. By point of
law, under Section 11 of the Hong Kong Immigration Ordinance, immigration
authorities may at any time deny entry to persons other than those with right of
abode in Hong Kong. According to a spokeswoman, "If our officers are
not satisfied with the visitor's reason to visit Hong Kong, or if they find the
visitor suspicious, they can refuse him to land in Hong Kong."
The average daily number of such rejections at
all entry checkpoints (including the Hong Kong International Airport) is just
over 80 (covering all nationalities). So why this sudden and seemingly
narrowly targeted screening of a specific class of people (by age/sex/place of
origin)? Here we depart from
known 'facts' into 'rumors' that are nevertheless not being refuted by anybody:
- (SCMP) An Immigration Department spokeswoman
... admitted authorities had tightened border inspections amid the rumours circulating in Shenzhen that the Hong Kong government would grant right of abode to mainland visitors for the handover anniversary.
- (Wen Wei Po) An immigration officer
said that they had increased scutiny of mainland entrants and did not deny
that the purpose was related to the rumors about how new Chief Executive Donald
Tsang would offer an amnesty to all those have previously been rejected on
their application for right of abode.
Who was responsible for releasing these rumors
in China, especially in Fujian province? Here the speculations begin to
run wild, and
things get absurd when the speculations contradict each other to the extreme. Here are some
- (SCMP) Legislator Choy So-yuk said: "In Fujian, the fight for right of abode is a big issue and any news, whether true or untrue, would quickly spread to a large audience."
Ms Choy denied her party - the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - had anything to do with the rumours. The party has been providing assistance to people seeking right of abode in Hong Kong.
Pao) According to Ma Lik, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong,
there have been rumors in Fujian that mainland Chinese residents who do not
have right of abode in Hong Kong will receive a special amnesty if they come
to participate in the July 1 parade to celebrate the return of Hong Kong to
China. Ma Lik said: "Someone has been using my personal name to
say that if they come to Hong Kong and participate in the parade on July 1,
they can receive the right of abode in three months' time." Ma
Lik suspects that the rumor had been propagated by those involved with
fighting for the right of abode for mainlanders. Ma Lik said,
"This is not the first time that such rumors have been
circulated. It happened right before the handover of Hong Kong
too. But this time, it is more serious and I am personally
named. The DAB has received many inquiries from mainlanders." Ma
Lik has made a personal report to Hong Kong Security Bureau Chief Lee
Shiu-kwong on this matter.
Deputy convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front Jackie Hung believes that
those who are fighting for right of abode would not do something like
The fact is that the DAB cannot both be
spreading these rumors and reporting them to the security bureau. Besides,
why would the DAB offer promises that they cannot possibly deliver on?
There is nothing to gain and everything to lose.
So who floated those rumors? As I said in
the beginning: Follow the money. According to the rumor about the rumors,
they initially came as SMS messages to mobile phones of Fujian residents, in
conjunction with sales efforts to purchase long-distance bus tickets to Hong
Kong. As a
result, there were sudden surges in bus ticket sales at all travel
agencies. Nobody else stands to gain anything meaningful from this.
So there you have it -- market supply meets market demand, which can be
artificially stimulated. Where is the CSR?