Babies born here to mainland mums could end up as social misfits

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 February, 2012, 12:00am


A controversy has been raging over the question of mainland mothers giving birth in Hong Kong hospitals.

Issues often mentioned are the strain this influx of patients is putting on our hospitals and the plight of local pregnant women unable to find a hospital bed. Another argument is focused on the near future, when mainland youngsters will compete with their local counterparts for kindergarten places.

While these are valid considerations, it is far more important to consider the plight of the mainland children born here, especially those whose parents are not Hong Kong citizens.

Let us consider two scenarios in which such children take advantage of their birthright. The first assumes that they will stay in Hong Kong from birth, either with relatives or legal guardians paid by their parents. Relatives have their own lives and children to handle, and, even worse, guardians who are hired by the children's parents may not love these children as their parents do. These children will grow up without the sense of love and belonging to which all children are entitled.

In the second scenario, newborn mainland children go back to their home towns and return to Hong Kong to receive schooling from the kindergarten level onwards. The above-mentioned problems still apply but are compounded by other issues. Having lived with their parents for their formative years, these children, suddenly alone, will feel abandoned.

Also, they will be on their own in an alien city with different values and conventions. They will not only have to adjust to a new social life but also a new and intimidating academic system. All this culminates in their suffering.

With so many problems, it would not be surprising if in adolescence many Hong Kong-born mainland children turn to substance abuse or even criminal activities. As a nurturing society, it is our duty to try to prevent this from happening.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is reluctant to consider a possible reinterpretation of the Basic Law to fix this situation. It would be best for him to act expeditiously. The status quo is unfair to all parties: local pregnant women are without hospital beds, hospitals are unnecessarily crowded, local pupils will face undue competition from mainland children, and mainland children will lead difficult and lonely lives.

Only by denying these babies citizenship can these problems be averted.

Ho Kam-tong, Yuen Long