Orphan's tears flow as she plans bright future

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 12:00am

A 19-year-old mainland orphan who was abandoned by her adoptive Hong Kong mother four years ago cried for days alone at her home after losing her legal battle to stay last week.

Ah-man was moved to tears again this week when she learned the Immigration Department had effectively reversed the ruling by allowing her to stay on discretionary grounds.

'Every step I took in the past was so heavy. But now I walk with confidence. Tomorrow will be a better day,' she said.

'The Year of the Goat will be a new start for me. As from today onwards, I can now plan for my future.'

The teenager came to Hong Kong on May 10, 1997, on a one-way permit and was later issued with an identity card. But she was abandoned by her adoptive mother four months later after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against her mother's live-in boyfriend. Despite Ah-man agreeing to drop the case, her mother abandoned her.

The police then referred her case to the Department of Immigration, which later cancelled her ID card and issued a removal order. Ah-man lost her legal battle against the order last Tuesday.

'I was so upset last week. I cried and cried for days alone at home, recalling how I was molested and how I was left alone,' she said.

But immigration officers told Ah-man during a break in her commerce classes on Monday she would be allowed to stay. 'I was so happy that I couldn't stop laughing in my class,' she said.

Ah-man said she was grateful to the Bar Association and her lawyers, Lau Pau and Stephen Tang Lung-wai, who worked on her case at no charge, and the Society for Community Organisation for its help.

Fighting back tears, Ah-man said: 'Life is so hard without an identity. Without the people who helped, I could have been left somewhere on the mainland or not have existed in this world. They are the people closest to me.'

She wanted to express her thanks to South China Morning Post readers who helped her after the paper highlighted in October how she survived on just $20 a day and felt suicidal.

'Thank you for extending your help when I was in the depth of despair. Your help made me feel warm and encouraged me to face the difficult times ahead,' she said. 'I'll work hard and be a useful person to help other needy people in future.'