Sad plight of 'motherless' children

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 July, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 July, 1993, 12:00am

YOUR newspaper is to be commended for publicising the case of Kwong Sai-hin, whose mother has now had her visa extended in order to allow her to care for this little fire victim, who will no doubt suffer psychological as well as physical scars when he grows older, unless plastic surgery can repair the damage.

This family came to my ward office, and I appealed to the Governor as well as the Director of Immigration, just prior to your publication of the case. My appeal was not merely to renew the mother's visa, but to grant her permanent residence, as the childwill need his mother's support for a long time to come.

The case pinpoints the harshness of our immigration policy, that this family not only had to face the tragic damage to the child, but also worry about the mother's possible repatriation at the expiry of her temporary visa. It is hypocrisy for us to boasta Bill of Rights when we ignore human rights at the basic level.

I have, for a long time, been pressing the Government to change its inhuman policy in allowing Hong Kong-born residents to bring their children from China, but not allowing their wives to come to take care of the children. The excuse given is that this would put a strain on our social services, including the demand for more schools. That is palpable nonsense, because the children are allowed to come, and surely bringing their mothers will not require more school places - unless it is presumed that the mothers want to go to school! In fact, kindergartens and primary schools are already short of students, and soon secondary and tertiary education will be over-supplied.

Indeed, it is the present immigration policy that is creating social problems by leaving the children motherless and depriving husbands of their wives. The consequence is that frequently men have to give up their jobs to take care of the children and thewhole family lives on public assistance. If they decide they do not want public assistance, and go back to work, the children are often left unattended, creating moral and physical danger to young lives.

Is there any sense in such a policy? I am fully aware that the policy cannot yet be relaxed for spouses who were not born in Hong Kong, because the problem then would be too great to handle and would put a strain on our social services.

Yet again the immigration policy is senseless, because it allows a child to remain with the father in Hong Kong if his wife manages to reach here and give birth in Hong Kong. The wife is then repatriated, and again a child is left motherless. Some women have given birth to two or more children in this way, again creating social problems and putting a strain on social services. It would make sense to send those children back to China with their mothers to wait until their turn is reached on the daily quota.

Moreover, it would be more fair to everyone. Not least of all it would be better for the children to bond with their mothers, instead of being left alone, or put in the care of any relative who will accept them - and some are left with elderly grandparents who cannot cope, leaving the children at risk.

It is my contention that the whole system needs an overhaul, using common sense rather than juggling with statistics and crude bureaucratic decisions that ignore the human element.

Would it be asking too much to request the Governor to take a rest from political activism and take a look at real problems that will affect the lives of the future generation? ELSIE TU Kowloon