Woman sold as child refused ID card

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 April, 2011, 12:00am

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A Hong Kong woman who was sold as a child servant to human smugglers from the mainland more than 60 years ago has been refused an ID card because she cannot provide written proof she was born here.

Kwok Lan-heung, 77, hit the headlines last year after she was reunited with her sister Kwok Choi, 88, in Hong Kong. They had not seen each other for 68 years and were reunited with the help of the Red Cross.

Kwok and her relatives and friends insist she was born in Hong Kong with the given name Yuk-lan. At the age of eight, during the Japanese occupation, she was sold to smugglers to work as a maid. She then lost contact with her family. Without a birth certificate, Kwok has failed to get a Hong Kong identity card.

'The incident happened ... a long time ago. It is unrealistic and unfair for the Immigration Department to use the current regulation to judge my case ... I am very disappointed,' Kwok said yesterday after meeting immigration officers.

Her elder sister suffers from serious asthma and has been living in a home. She was recently admitted to hospital and Kwok had to borrow a travel permit to visit her.

'If I am given an ID card, it will be more convenient for me to visit her. I can come here any time,' said Kwok, who lives in Shanwei, Guangdong. Her current permit lets her enter Hong Kong only twice every three months, for up to seven days each time.

Immigration officers told Kwok that although many people could vouch that she was born in Hong Kong, she did not have sufficient written evidence.

Kwok provided the department with a family photo taken before she was sold and the birth certificate of her younger brother, which bore her parents' names. But she did not have a birth certificate from when she was born in 1934. She had approached Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei, where she was born, and the primary school she had attended in Mong Kok, but neither had kept records.

Legislator Lee Wing-tat, who is helping Kwok secure an ID card, said the department should interview all the relatives that could prove Kwok once lived in Hong Kong. 'The department can only verify Kwok's residency if there is sufficient documentary evidence; this is very bureaucratic,' he said.

Kwok said: 'My only hope is that [the department] can verify that I was born in Hong Kong. I do not have any other request.'

A spokesman said the department verified whether applicants were permanent residents according to the law and, because Kwok's case involved the right of abode, she had to provide proof that she was born in the city. He said the department would help her. However, if she was not happy with the decision, she could lodge an appeal at the Registration of Persons Tribunal.