Only 9pc of forecast 1.67m mainlanders settle in HK
Only about 145,000 mainland-born children of Hong Kong parents will end up reuniting with them in the city, a calculation based on recent data and government estimates suggests.
That is less than 9 per cent of the 1.67 million the government predicted 13 years ago would flock to Hong Kong.
Jackie Hung Ling-yu, a project officer of the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong's Justice and Peace Commission who has been helping abode claimants for more than 10 years, said yesterday at a Legislative Council subcommittee meeting the government owed the claimants an apology.
'How did you get the 1.67 million figure?' she asked. 'That was done in 1999, but we still cannot get an answer today ... the government and some political parties still use similar tactics today to deceive the public in the migrant workers' right of abode saga.'
The 1.67 million estimate was made by former secretary for security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee - now a lawmaker - in 1999 after a controversial Court of Final Appeal ruling that awarded right of abode to children born out of wedlock to a Hongkonger and children born before either parent became a permanent resident.
However, figures in a Legco paper yesterday showed that from 2000 to September 2010, only 64,842 such children had come to Hong Kong on a one-way permit and an estimated 80,000 grown-up mainland children would settle in the city after a new policy announced last year.
In fact, Immigration Department figures show that the total number of mainland one-way permit holders who settled in Hong Kong was only 514,362, less than half the estimate made in 1999.
Lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said: 'The government was lying to Hong Kong people at that time and stirred up much fear and exclusionist sentiment. And we only find out it was such a big error now. It is ridiculous.'
Maggie Wong Siu-chu, principal assistant secretary for security, did not answer the criticism directly, only saying the current figure could not be compared with the 1999 estimate.
Ip saw no need to apologise.
'It was a bona fide attempt,' she said. 'Officials were acting in good faith. It was our best effort available at that time.'
She said the Census and Statistics Department arrived at the 1.67 million figure through scientific means and no one would have expected the mainland economy to grow so fast in the intervening years that mainlanders now did not want to settle in Hong Kong.
Under the new policy announced last year, children of Hongkongers born on the mainland who were under 14 when their natural father or mother obtained a Hong Kong identity card before November 1, 2001, are eligible to apply for right of abode.
Applications opened in April. So far, the mainland authorities have received 28,286 applications and granted one-way permits to 5,335.
Some single mainland mothers who need to travel frequently to Hong Kong to look after their children have complained they are not qualified to get one-way permits.
Number of one-way permits mainland authorities have granted since applications under new rules opened in April