100 abode seekers to defy order

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 12:00am

At least 100 unsuccessful right-of-abode claimants are planning to defy an order requiring them to report to the Immigration Department for repatriation on Monday.

The 100 are among the first batch of mainlanders to face being returned, with Sunday marking the end of a grace period under which those who go back to China will suffer no penalty.

Abode seekers who have no right to remain have been told to report to the department for removal in stages, while those whose cases are still being considered by the department and the courts will have their bail extended beyond Sunday. Abode seekers' groups said the 100 claimants have been ordered to report to a new immigration office at the former Kai Tak airport on Monday.

The vice-chairman of a right-of-abode parents' group, Cheung Cho-sang, said he understood the 100 claimants would not report to the office.

'We're still planning what action to take, but the Government's tough line will not be helpful. The emotions of some abode seekers are running high. The situation may get out of control,' Mr Cheung said.

About 7,000 abode seekers remain in Hong Kong, including those who have lost their claims under a landmark ruling on January 10 and who are still the subject of legal proceedings.

A Security Bureau source was quoted yesterday as saying the abode issue would be resolved in a few months with only about 500 to 600 diehard claimants refusing to leave, but Mr Cheung expected the number to be several thousand.

A total of 2,570 mainlanders have indicated their intention to leave before Sunday and of these 1,539 had left by yesterday.

A Security Bureau spokesman said yesterday the removal action would be conducted rationally and with restraint. It is understood that while officers will not raid homes of abode seekers who fail to report back, those intercepted on the streets will be removed.

The two Catholic schools which have defied a government ban to provide education for child abode seekers have decided to continue running classes for those who have their bail extended beyond the Easter holidays.

Among the 56 pupils originally studying at Ng Wah College Primary Morning School in San Po Kong and St Joan of Arc Primary School in North Point, only 34 remained last Saturday. The rest have returned or are preparing to return to the mainland.