Great Britain

Turning shameful blind eye

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 September, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 September, 1993, 12:00am


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NEVER in the field of human conflict, has so little been given to those few who sacrificed so much.

I refer to those wives and war widows whose husbands fought against, and resisted the Japanese when they invaded Hong Kong. The husbands who were imprisoned and those who were executed. The husbands and fathers who were imprisoned and those who were executed. The husbands and fathers who are no longer able to care for, or protect their loved ones. The ones who were praised so much at the time, but whose wives and widows are now being denied rights of abode in Great Britain.

British passports are presently being granted to those whose continued presence in the territory is considered to be advantageous in the run up to 1997; those who might otherwise have panicked and left Hong Kong in the lurch. But these people have not resisted an invading enemy; they've not suffered the terror of that fateful knock on the door, or the waiting and wondering if their husbands were being tortured, or were starving to death. They are just ordinary citizens playing their options.

In effect, they have been bribed - with British passports - to stay on and (if things don't turn out too well) they will have an escape route for themselves and their families while the wives and the widows will just have to take their chances with the new order. That Mr Patten is attempting to make such political capital out of the Han Dongfang affair when, to all intents and purposes, the British Government has done the same thing to those remaining 25 wives and war widows just goes to show what cynics most politicians are.

Jack Edwards put it in a nutshell: ''They give him a headstone, but they won't give her a piece of cardboard. I am ashamed to be British and I am not ashamed to admit it.'' If I were British, I'd feel the same way.





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