PUBLIC EYE MICHAEL CHUGANI
Public Eye
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Common sense derailed over immigration checks at West Kowloon terminus

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 12:23am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 3:12pm

Common sense derailed over immigration checks

Let's do the reverse. Instead of mainland immigration officials at the high-speed railway's West Kowloon terminus, let's station Hong Kong officials on the other side of the border.

Would our politicians still scream about a breach of the "one country, two systems" principle? Of course not.

The controversy would instantly die even though it will cost taxpayers to have our officials there whereas it costs us nothing to have mainland officials here.

It's not reverence for the Basic Law that's driving vehemence to mainland officials at West Kowloon. It's fear and hatred of communist China combined with a residual resistance by some to accept it as the sovereign. Hate all you want. Hong Kong allows the freedom to do that despite claims that free expression is eroding.

But let's not be so blinded by anti-China politics that we can't think straight. This is not a defence of Beijing's one-party rule but a plea for common sense.

It makes sense for a high-speed railway to have dual immigration clearance at one end. Speed is slowed if passengers have to clear immigration at both ends. The best option is for mainland officials in West Kowloon since it's the terminus.

When Public Eye urged that we de-politicise the issue, we received emails fearing that mainland officials at West Kowloon could arrest Hongkongers to face mainland justice. God gave us all a brain, so please use it.

When you insert your identity card to go through the turnstile at Lo Wu, you've technically exited Hong Kong but are you in Hong Kong or the mainland during the short walk to mainland immigration?

If mainland officials want to arrest you, the dumb thing would be to do so before you clear mainland immigration.

Surely they're smart enough to do it after you've technically entered the mainland. Apply that same thinking for West Kowloon.

There's no need for mainland officials to arrest you in West Kowloon. They can do it once the train reaches the mainland.

If you fear arrest, don't go to the mainland because they can do it whether you travel through Lo Wu or West Kowloon.

The sole purpose of mainland officials at West Kowloon is to clear people for entry into China. So let's de-politicise the issue and get the railway done since we've already poured billions into it.

mickchug@gmail.com