• Wed
  • Oct 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:19am
NewsHong Kong

Zero quota on mainland mums in hospitals 'bad for economy'

Preventing mainland mothers from having babies here could harm medical tourism and is not a long-term fix, warns Basic Law expert

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 March, 2013, 11:33pm

Government measures to stop floods of mainland mothers visiting Hong Kong to give birth could hurt the city's medical tourism industry, a member of the Basic Law Committee has warned.

Senior Counsel Johnny Mok Shiu-luen also told the South China Morning Post that using administrative means, such as the zero-quota policy for mainland mothers in the city's maternity wards, would not resolve the legal right-of-abode issue.

Mok was speaking for the first time since last week's Court of Final Appeal hearing involving the controversial right-of-abode issue for foreign domestic workers, which is expected to have an impact on the residency rights of children born in Hong Kong to mainland parents.

He said using administrative measures to handle a legal issue, would not solve the problem in the long term.

Not only does [the zero quota policy] not provide a permanent solution, it could bring adverse impacts to Hong Kong

"Not only does [the zero quota policy] not provide a permanent solution, it could bring adverse impacts to Hong Kong," Mok said. "For instance, if Hong Kong wants to aggressively develop medical tourism, including its maternity services, for mainlanders and visitors from other places the right-of-abode issue needs to be addressed.

"Medical tourism can bring a lot of economic benefits to Hong Kong. However, the administrative means that ban the entry [of potential users of medical services] hampers the development of this industry."

But Dr Kwok Ka-ki, a private doctor and Civic Party lawmaker, challenged Mok's stance. He said some mainland mothers wanted to give birth in Hong Kong to gain permanent residency for their children, not because of the city's maternity services.

Kwok said: "Maternity services don't involve high-end medical technology. So I don't think the zero quota policy would have an impact on medical tourism. Patients who really need the high-end medical technology in Hong Kong are more likely to be those who suffer from severe illness, such as cancer."

Lawmaker Dr Leung Ka-lau sided with Mok, saying that many mainland mothers genuinely wanted to seek maternity services in Hong Kong, and were not travelling to the city with a hidden right-of-abode agenda.

Mok, who is one of 12 members of the Basic Law Committee, wanted the courts to decide who has right-of-abode in Hong Kong.

"I strongly believe [the zero quota] should not be a long-term solution. You are now using administrative means to tackle a legal question. Should we simply [use the administrative means] to dodge the question and to bypass the court?"

Leung and Kwok said the ultimate solution for the right-of-abode saga was to amend the Basic Law. Allowing mainland mothers to use our maternity services should not amount to giving their children a Hong Kong identity card.

"They are completely two [different] things," Leung said.



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Rubbish article. The quota on mainland mums is not bad for the economy, it is good for economy. Who is the author a lobbyist for? Mainland children born in Hong Kong will soak up social resources (school, hospital facilities) and most will never pay any taxes or live in Hong Kong. Medical tourism will not be discourage by this quota. If Hong Kong provides great medical care, people will come here for operations regardless of whether they can have their children born here and receive HK passports! Why does the SCMP publish such poorly thought out opinion pieces?
Agreed 100%! It's so obviously rubbish that I can't believe the above mentioned lawmaker is not lobbying for the mainland stance.
I constantly hear (from local, as well as expat friends, including those, who gave birth here) how hard it is to get a booking at a hospital for delivery. Even in some private hospitals! So what "bad impact on economy" is he talking about?? There is not enough space for all the expectant mothers to give births!
The best way is to make use of the high demand of quality medical services of the rich mainlanders to subsidise that of the Hongkongers ! And benefit both the locals and the mainlanders mutually.
How ?
Well, say have a quota of 1000 of $1 millions each for the mainlanders annually and use this amount of money to build more hopitals and train more doctors.
I didn't know HK was aiming to develop medical tourism. We have problems providing medical facilities to our own people already, either requiring them to queue up in dismal hospital waiting rooms, or pay hefty bills at private hospitals. Charity begins at home. Chinese mothers wanting maternity services in HK say something about China's medical care for its people's. The matter should certainly be addressed from there rather than passing the buck here.
"Charity begins at home" - absolutely!
There is some confusion here. A zero quota on pregnant mums will only affect maternity services of which, if HK does not have a surplus of, is not a good candidate for medical tourism anyway. Other services ie cancer treatment etc for medical tourists should not be affected. When Mr Mok talks of medical tourism I think this is wishful thinking, taking time, resources and effort especially if HK is to compete with Singapore, Thailand and even Taiwan. I think throwing in the 'economy suffering' soundbite is more for show than contributing to the argument. The right of abode question needs to be addressed but this argument isn't going to help.
For clarity the US does allow pregnant mothers to travel to the US to give birth so long as they have the resources to pay and intend to leave after but the question is vexing them too..
What Mok has done in SCMP’s interview is setting up an argument that is based on a nonentity than refutes it so to make a point. It may be his way of making his living as a Senior Counsel, but I will advice him it takes a super skill to represent self-interest clients who are against society. The collective wisdom of the people could easily find your argument false and clumsy. You have overestimated your counsel skill to your clients. And these clients shouldn’t pay you a cent.
Furthermore, the writer who defended you in this comment are equally false and clumsy by just repeating your way of argument.
most HKers, like me, do not want medical tourism! We actually want good medical care for HKers.
local doctors in private hospitals ought to pay a special tax since they were educated in subsidized local universities and trained in public hospitals. They ought to be ashame that HK tax-payers has to wait up to 40 months for an appointment in Government hospitals!!
I do agree that the right of abode issue for babies born to mainland parents need to be resolved legally rather than administratively. In the scenario that babies born to mainland parents may no longer obtain HK residency, hospitals in HK may certainly benefit from allocating its excess capacity in the maternity wards to non-HK mothers assuming the demand from HK residents are fully accommodated.




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