No rush for mainland drivers to enter HK
Ada Lee and Adrian Wan
The second phase of a cross-border driving scheme, which will let mainlanders bring their cars into Hong Kong, could be put off until the time was ripe, said Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan .
The provincial government had told the Hong Kong government it welcomed Hong Kong drivers but did not 'emphasise too much on reciprocality', he said in Beijing.
'It's not like since you are coming, we have to go over to you too, and no matter the circumstances we must go over, come hell or high water. It's not like that,' he said.
He said Guangdong would arrange for mainland drivers to enter Hong Kong when Hongkongers embraced the idea.
'Don't worry, we will have our feet on the ground and solve this issue.'
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, lawmakers defeated a motion to inspect documents relating to the scheme, at a meeting of the Legislative Council's transport panel yesterday.
Some panel members wanted to see documents related to discussions held between Hong Kong and Guangdong authorities, to see if the city was under an obligation to let mainlanders drive their cars across the border.
The motion, to use the Powers and Privileges Ordinance in seeking the documents, was put forward by independent lawmaker Andrew Cheng Kar-foo, but was defeated in a 6-3 vote.
This came after Secretary for Transport Eva Cheng assured the panel, in a letter, that the government's press releases had 'fully reflected the records of the meetings'.
Lau Kong-wah, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the request to release minutes was unnecessary because Eva Cheng had confirmed that the press releases were truthful.
Andrew Cheng said that it was important for lawmakers to have access to the documents so they would know whether the city had any obligation to go ahead with the scheme's second phase.
'If it was found that Hong Kong had an obligation to run the scheme's second phase, we would have to ask the government to talk to Guangdong officials again, as they might have underestimated public reaction [in Hong Kong],' he said.
The Civic Party's Tanya Chan said lawmakers needed to know more about the discussions on the plan.
Many Hongkongers have voiced their objections to the scheme in the past few weeks, fearing an increased danger on the city's roads if mainland drivers are allowed into the city.
They are also worried that more pregnant mainland women would be driven here to give birth without registering with hospitals.
Eva Cheng said the government would seek the legislature's approval before the second stage of the plan was rolled out.
It would also go ahead only if the first stage - Hongkongers driving into the mainland - proved successful.
The first drivers are expected to use the Western Corridor border crossing on April 27. A maximum of 50 cars with temporary licences can cross the border from Hong Kong each day under the first phase.
The government says it has no timetable in mind for the second phase.