Only 14pc of claimants take DNA abode tests

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 March, 2003, 12:00am

Only 14 per cent of mainland abode seekers have undergone government-supervised genetic tests to prove they are children of Hong Kong parents since the DNA procedure was introduced in late 2001.

The Immigration Department said that since September 2001, at least 4,097 mainland abode seekers had been asked to prove their parentage by taking the test.

Applicants deemed to have provided insufficient documentary evidence to substantiate their claim are asked to provide tissue samples, as are their parents.

But up to last month, only 586 had taken the tests - of whom 572 had proved their claims, while 14 had failed.

The test involves taking tissue from an applicant's mouth. A mainland laboratory then analyses the sample, while a Hong Kong laboratory analyses that taken from his or her parent. Both samples must match to prove parentage.

A department spokesman did not exclude the possibility that many had not taken the test knowing that it would have undermined their claim.

The Hong Kong government charges $2,740 for the test, about the same amount as immigration authorities in Guangdong, which are responsible for the tests. The results usually take about a month.

'It is possible some don't want to take the test [because it would disprove their claims]. They don't have to take it. We only ask they take it if they want to press ahead with their abode claims,' the Immigration Department spokesman said. 'They are asked to take it when they can't provide sufficient documentary proof that they are children of Hong Kong parents.'

Chan Wai-hung, 21, took his DNA test last December, proved his abode claim in January and received a temporary Hong Kong identity card last month.

But he said he felt lost in Hong Kong without a job.

'It's very difficult to find one,' said Mr Chan, who lives with his father and mother in Hong Kong and receives government welfare subsidies.

'I wouldn't have thought I was fighting for my abode rights in December and [then would be] worried about being jobless in March.'

The DNA procedures have been criticised by some legislators and experts as flawed, saying the results should be analysed in the same laboratory to ensure samples were not contaminated or tampered with.