• Sun
  • Sep 21, 2014
  • Updated: 3:12pm
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

Medical tourism? Mok, only if it bring long term benefits. Taking away the one time fees earned by medical practitioners, HK has to foot the long term bills for education, medical and all social benefits for these Mainland babies with no guarantee they are wiling to live and work here. Had Mok calculate that costs? If we need new working force, we should review our immigration policy rather such as taking in professionals etc, not by allowing new borns with so much unknowns and little planning.
Mok missed the point completely. If the BL is amended to deny permanent residency to newborns of parents from China, it will have exactly the same economic effect as the zero quota, maybe even more so because the incentive of smuggling is gone.
Mr. Mok's comments are ridiculous. Medical tourism includes a multitiude of medical procedures it isn't restricted to maternity services. He is also short sighted in that the Chinese parents whose child is born in Hong Kong is a permanent resident from birth and as such is entitled to a host of social benefits paid for by Hong Kong tax payers. The one time fee paid to give birth here doesn't even come close to coving the medical, education and other social benefits that child will be entitled to for life.
In addition, Mr. Mok seems oblivious to the shortage of places in our schools in the northern New Territories for local tax payers due to the fact that those children who were born here are taking up large numbers of seats in our schools.
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.
the courts should decide ?
are judges more enlightened then administrators?
no they are not, they have lost touch with real society and have lost what little common sense they are born with
Developing medical tourism using the right of abode for Hong Kong-born babies as the main attraction point has the makings of a tragedy of the commons in it. A medical industry making money off mothers who are primarily attracted to a free public 'resource' (the right of abode for the child) will lead to the erosion of that and other resources if it is over-used. Nevertheless, Mok has a point: the zero-quota solution was put in place as a temporary relief measure, but it is indeed an administrative solution for a deeper legal problem. The government should seek a more stable solution to the latter.




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