End democrats' travel ban, delegate urges

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 March, 2008, 12:00am

A Hong Kong delegate to the nation's top advisory body, now meeting in Beijing, has proposed that all pan-democratic legislators be granted home return permits.

Actress Elizabeth Wang Ming-chun, a representative to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the suggestion during an open meeting of local delegates to discuss Premier Wen Jiabao's work report.

She said allowing pan-democrats to visit the mainland would enable them to observe the country's development in the Beijing Olympics year.

'It will be good if they have the opportunity to hold dialogue with state leaders,' Ms Wang said.

Eight of the 25 pan-democrat legislative councillors are barred from the mainland except for tours organised by the government.

No delegates responded to Ms Wang's suggestion at the meeting.

Unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, detained by the authorities when he attempted to deliver donations to student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, welcomed her efforts but regretted she was a lone voice.

'So far, we haven't seen any indication they will relax the restrictions on us,' he said.

Lawmaker Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, who was part of an 'ice-breaking trip' to Guangdong led by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in 2005, praised Ms Wang for making the suggestion in public.

Ms Wang said she was making the proposal in response to CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin's remarks calling for better communication with Hong Kong and Macau political groups, made in his annual report on the CPPCC's work.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong chairman and CPPCC delegate Tam Yiu-chung, who attended yesterday's meeting, said he hoped the relationship between Beijing and the pan-democrats would gradually change.

Howard Young, a local CPPCC delegate, plans to table a motion calling for expatriates with permanent residency in Hong Kong to be granted permits to visit the mainland.