Expat police angry at losing privileges

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 February, 1997, 12:00am

Expatriate police officers have attacked the decision to end immigration privileges for Britons.

They said the move had created dissatisfaction and uncertainty and were unhappy the Government had not consulted them.

The officers said their long service to Hong Kong should be recognised.

The criticism was voiced as legislators said comments on the changes should be submitted by Thursday.

The Immigration (Amendment) Bill will remove Britons' right to study and work without a visa. It also removes the right to land, which is available to Britons with more than seven years' residency.

The right is replaced with unconditional stay. This would also be available after the same period to other expatriates, but lost if the holder leaves for more than 12 months.

Visas are not required for either category.

Officials aim to introduce the proposal, brought about by the handover, on April 1 - a date the Security Branch said was fixed after consulting the British community.

The Expatriate Inspectors' Association is writing to legislators and superintendents yesterday wrote to police management, voicing their dissatisfaction.

A superintendent said: 'After so many years of services, our contributions should be recognised.

'We don't think unconditional stay is what we deserve.' Chairman of the association Martin Cadman said: 'The proposal has caused a lot of dissatisfaction. We have never been consulted.' Vice-chairman of the association Neil Dunn said: 'Those who have the right to land should be allowed to keep it.' While officials did not rule out the possibility some Britons might be able to obtain right of abode after the handover. But because the subject is still being discussed by the Joint Liaison Group, Mr Cadman said the proposal had created uncertainties.

'The officers have to give up their right to land in exchange for something which they do not know if they would be eligible for,' Mr Cadman said.

He estimated there were about 500 British police officers who had worked for more than seven years with either the right to land or the right of abode. They form the largest group of Britons in a government department.