Airport segregation for the benefit of all
I REFER to the letter headlined 'Worries over identity card well founded' from Dr Brian Apthorp (South China Morning Post, November 8).
Under the existing Immigration Ordinance, Hong Kong permanent residents have the right of abode in the territory and are eligible for Hong Kong permanent identity cards.
The term 'Hong Kong permanent resident' is defined in the Immigration Ordinance to mean: Persons wholly or partly of Chinese race who have at any time been resident in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years; British Dependent Territories citizens who have a connection with Hong Kong (e.g. by birth, naturalisation or registration in Hong Kong), or who have at any time been married to such a citizen; Commonwealth citizens who immediately before January 1, 1983, had the right to land in Hong Kong as a Hong Kong belonger. This is defined as a person who immediately before that date was: a British subject who was born in Hong Kong; a British subject by naturalisation in the territory; a British subject by registration in Hong Kong under section 7 (2) of the British Nationality Act 1948; or a British subject married, or who had been married to, or who was a child of, one of the classes of people mentioned above.
From the information available, it appears Dr Apthorp does not have the right of abode in Hong Kong and is therefore not eligible for a Hong Kong permanent identity card.
However, the Immigration Ordinance also provides that a British citizen who has been ordinarily resident in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years shall have the right to land in Hong Kong.
The Basic Law comes into force in 1997 and foreign residents will be able to continue to live in Hong Kong. For those who satisfy the requirements in Article 24 (2) (4) of the Basic Law, they can have the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The segregation of holders of Hong Kong permanent identity cards at the airport is a new procedure. Its main objective is to speed up the processing of all passengers. We are now reviewing its effectiveness.
ANNA S C CHAN for Director of Immigration