Father Mella still optimistic

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2006, 12:00am

Father Franco Mella believes that the thousands seeking abode in Hong Kong will have their wish granted.

'I still have hope. I think that this problem will last for 10 years before it is sorted,' said the 58-year-old Catholic priest, as he ended a four-day hunger strike outside the Court of Final Appeal in support of the mainland-born children of Hong Kong couples seeking the right to live in the city.

His belief is based on his successful fight for residency for the 'boat brides' - mainland wives who illegally entered Hong Kong to be with their fisherman husbands.

'Some parents now say it is useless to march. But we don't just do useful things which yield results. We do meaningful things, as Jesus Christ said.'

After years spent supporting the abode seekers' cause, Father Franco Mella moved to Jiangsu province in 2003 to teach deaf and blind children English. But he has not forgotten those with whom he stood shoulder to shoulder in the abode cause.

Every January, he sleeps outside the Legislative Council building to mark the January 29, 1999 ruling in favour of the abode seekers. And each June, he goes on hunger strike to mark the reinterpretation stripping them of residency rights.