Democrats set to cross border on customs trip

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 March, 2007, 12:00am

Lawmakers from the pan-democratic camp could soon be making another trip across the border to inspect immigration and customs facilities at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor, which will open soon.

The Security Bureau confirmed yesterday a site visit was being arranged for next Saturday. If everything goes smoothly, it will be the second official visit by a delegation of Hong Kong legislators since an ice-breaking visit to Guangdong in September 2005.

Many from the pan-democratic camp had been barred from the mainland for more than a decade. In September 2005, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen led a Legislative Council delegation to visit Guangdong for two days. Members were able to hold talks with mainland officials.

Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said yesterday: 'I would certainly sign up for the visit. I do not have the travel permit, but the government said they would help sort things out. I suppose that means I can go.'

The visit was prompted after members of a Legco bills committee said they wanted to inspect the progress at the border checkpoint at the Western Corridor, which links Shekou in Shenzhen and Ngau Hom Shek in the New Territories.

Legislators sitting on the Shenzhen Bay Port Hong Kong Port Area Bill committee, transport panel, and security panel can sign up for the visit. A new mode of immigration and customs clearance will be adopted at the checkpoint, allowing one-stop clearance.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee ruled last October that Hong Kong was authorised to exercise jurisdiction over the Hong Kong port area at the Shekou checkpoint.

In a brief statement yesterday the Security Bureau said: 'The number of participants has not yet been confirmed. The Security Bureau is contacting the mainland authorities to co-ordinate the relevant arrangements.'