A suggestion raised by a Hong Kong property tycoon about reducing the one-way permit quota for new immigrants coming from the mainland was rejected by Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday.
Adam Kwok Kai-fai, an executive director of Sun Hung Kai Properties and the second-oldest son of the property developer’s former co-chairman Thomas Kwok Ping-kwon, proposed during a recent meeting of the Guangdong People’s Political Consultative Conference to cut the one-way permit quota to 75 from 150 per day.
Kwok said over the past three years, only 78% of the daily quota had been used. He said reducing the quota could leave more social resources to local people and help ease the conflicts between Hong Kong and the mainland.
He added that Guangdong province could encourage Hong Kong people to move to the Greater Bay Area to reunite with their mainland families and also create job opportunities for Hong Kong youngsters.
Neo Democrat lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai said he welcomed Kwok’s suggestion, which was also one of the mainstream opinions of Hong Kong people.
However, he added that even if the central government agreed to slash the quota, Hong Kong people would continue to fight for their five demands, which include the implementation of genuine universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police misconduct.
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, chairperson of the New People’s Party, said the Hong Kong government could propose to reduce the quota to the central government, but any change should not affect the Hong Kong-mainland families’ plans to reunite. She said it was unfair to blame new immigrants for the social conflicts in Hong Kong.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Hong Kong had no intention of changing the one-way permit quota for the moment as any change in the policy or quota would send the wrong message to the public that the family reunification policy should be blamed for the “particular social phenomenon,” referring to the social unrest in Hong Kong.
Lam said the mainland authorities were in charge of approving people to move to Hong Kong with the one-way permit quota and had not used up the quota in the past two years.
The Security Bureau said Hong Kong people’s mainland spouses had to spend four years on average to move to Hong Kong. It said there was a need to continue the one-way permit system as the trend that one-third of Hong Kong’s marriages were cross-border couples would not change in the long run.
The matter remained controversial as pro-Beijing newspapers skipped it when reporting Kwok’s other suggestions about the economic integration between Hong Kong and Guangdong province.
Political commentator Yau Ching-yuen said in his YouTube channel that it was unlikely that Kwok’s suggestion to cut the one-way permit would be backed by the central government as it was politically incorrect. Yau said Beijing would continue to dilute Hong Kong’s population with mainlanders.
Sun Hung Kai Properties told RTHK on Tuesday that Kwok’s suggestion to cut the one-way permit quota was only his personal viewpoint. The company said it had never done any research on the matter and respected that the current arrangement on the one-way permit quota was controlled by Hong Kong and the mainland governments according to policy needs.