Regina sees freedom in surrender to the motherland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 December, 1999, 12:00am

Regina Ip had some strange advice for anyone in a similar predicament to Wu Man.

Legislators wanted to know what the Government was doing about the suspected SAR gangster who was seized on a street in Bangkok and sent to the mainland for trial without any extradition hearing.

Asked what Hong Kong residents could do if their freedom came under threat while travelling overseas, the Secretary for Security suggested seeking assistance from a Chinese embassy.

That was hardly useful advice for anyone in a situation even remotely resembling that of Wu. After all it was Beijing that was hunting him, and mainland officials were closely involved in his removal from Thailand.

Lee Cheuk-yan promptly pointed out this made her answer 'absurd' and Mrs Ip hastily explained she had been talking in general terms.

Presumably not even the most blinkered bureaucrat would expect an alleged member of Big Spender's gang to head for the nearest Chinese mission in the hope of avoiding abduction.

What remains a mystery is how mainland authorities tracked their suspect down to Thailand. Mrs Ip seemed to view it as a personal affront when Democrat James To suggested perhaps SAR officials had tipped off their bosses in Beijing about Wu's whereabouts. 'This is a very serious accusation,' she retorted, strongly denying the charge.

Nor was Mrs Ip concerned about the lack of an extradition hearing. Apparently Wu was never extradited. Instead she insisted he merely had his visa revoked and was then sent back to his country of birth by the Thai authorities.

To the layman that sounds like extradition, but not to Mrs Ip. 'Must everyone be deported under extradition treaties?' she asked, citing cases where this was not required in the US, to show she had done her homework.

Mrs Ip also made much of Thailand's claim that Wu agreed to be deported to China, despite the risk of execution. That prompted Emily Lau to point there was no evidence to substantiate this and she had received a letter suggesting otherwise.

Ms Lau suggested the Government try to check if this was true. But Mrs Ip didn't seem keen to do so, taking refuge in the absence of anything in the Chinese criminal code allowing the SAR access to detainees on the mainland. Instead she said it was up to his family to find out.

However, she did offer one crumb of comfort. Apparently it is government policy to ask for 'humane treatment' of Hong Kong people, wherever they are held. Perhaps it should remind the court in Guangzhou of this before Wu is sent off to face the firing squad.