Not true

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 1997, 12:00am

In his article on the BN(O) passport (Sunday Morning Post, July 27), Danny Gittings set forth his view that a BN(O) passport could not give foreign immigration authorities the right to return the holder of the passport to Hong Kong. The truth is quite the contrary. I would like to confirm two factual points about which the British Consul-General wrote (Sunday Morning Post, August 3) in response to Mr Gittings' article.

In 1987, the Chinese and British governments agreed in the Joint Liaison Group that all BN(O) passports should contain an endorsement stating that the holder of the passport holds a Hong Kong permanent identity card, which states that the holder has the right of abode in Hong Kong. The purpose of this endorsement is to remove any doubt on the part of foreign immigration authorities about the returnability of the holder of the BN(O) passport to Hong Kong.

Mr Gittings argued that in the longer term, some BN(O)s would lose their right of abode and the endorsement would become an inaccurate reflection of the holder's status.

While some BN(O) holders who do not have Chinese nationality may lose their right of abode after having ceased to be ordinarily resident in (which means ceasing to have certain connections, such as a home and family here, and not just physically absent from) Hong Kong for more than three years, these BN(O) holders, or for that matter any permanent resident who loses the right of abode, will be entitled to the right to land, which enables them to enter and stay in Hong Kong without conditions and be free from removal from Hong Kong. As far as returnability to Hong Kong is concerned, there is no difference between a person with the right to land and a permanent resident. Foreign immigration authorities will, therefore, not encounter any difficulties in returning a BN(O) holder either with the right to land or with the right of abode to Hong Kong.

INGRID HO for Secretary for Security