• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 8:29pm
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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This article is now closed to comments

With zero-quota, the medical expenses would be increased for the locals soon.
Banning the parallel trade, MTR would increase the fare (or decrease the frequency) for the locals ultimalely.
That is spontaneus consequences.
The right of abode issue is destined to end sometime in the future (34 years & ten yrs earlier) with the borders finally dissolved !
"Like it of not" does not matter
Mr Mok, please also consider several social impacts for children born with HK citizenship:
- Separation from their parents as they can't stay freely in HK
- Unability to live and study in the mainland
- Long commutation if living at the border and attending HK schools
- etc.
You are following former CE and ducking into the simplified theory that medical services are a pillar of economy.
The children of Mr Mok - and those of the private medical practitioners - goes to private local or overseas boarding schools. They do not need to queue for the local places like us proletariats. Of course their spouses also do not need to sleep on the makeshift beds along the public hospitals when they give birth................thanks to all the $$$$ from the selective medical toursim that he lobbies for.
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?
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.
most HKers, like me, do not want medical tourism! We actually want good medical care for HKers.
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.
To many Chinese, the grass on the other side is always greener. Most of mainland mothers want to have the high-end maternity services in Hong Kong yet some mainland mothers may use the maternity services as the way to gain permanent residency for their children.
My husband is an America born Chinese yet I am still a Taiwanese and I am in no hurry to be an American. I have never been discriminated against in the United States. I am 5 feet and 4 inch tall and 119Lbs. I have an appearance of Chinese, European and Japanese. I have heard many Asian or Chinese who have complained that they have been discriminated against or been treated like second-class citizens in the United States yet their use any means to come to the United States with a large amount of money.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 03/05/13 美國
Finally, somebody willing to stand up for economic liberties. Whatever his ulterior motives at least Mr. Mok is talking sensibly. To those whose reflexive response is to criticize his intelligence or his understanding of legal issues, at least do us the courtesy of making intelligent arguments yourselves. Mr. Mok's key point in this article is that attempting to prevent mainland mothers from giving birth in Hong Kong does not remedy the right of abode issue. By definition, the zero quota reduces demand for maternity and neo-natal services. It may be your opinion that such demand is purely a function of right of abode, but you have no counterfactual evidence to support this point until the right of abode issue is fixed. Meanwhile, I may equally claim that those mainland women booking themselves into Matilda are looking for high-touch, not high-technology care: Matilda kicks you to gov't hospital at the slightest sign of complication. By excusing government intervention in the private sector you pave the way toward still more erosion of Hong Kong's economic foundation. I believe Mr. Mok is right: these are separate issues.



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