• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 11:00pm
NewsHong Kong
RIGHT OF ABODE

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

honger
u are taling hogwash, u who profess to be a local. Your arguements are not logical at all!!!
vikulya78@yahoo.com
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!
vikulya78@yahoo.com
"Charity begins at home" - absolutely!
markhughes
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..
impala
Your point makes more or less sense, but the statistics are off. We have about 90k babies born in Hong Kong every year. About half of those are born to 'mainland' mothers, but a good portion of those women are actually HK residents, which they have often become after marrying a Hong Kong man. Before the government brought in the zero-quota, in 2011, the best estimate is that some 25k of the total 96k births in Hong Kong that year were to women without right of abode in Hong Kong. That is still an awful lot, but your figure of 350k in 5 years is definitely too high - that is closer to the total number of ALL births taken place in Hong Kong over the past 5 years.
impala
Your point makes more or less sense, but the statistics are off. We have about 90k babies born in Hong Kong every year. About half of those are born to 'mainland' mothers, but a good portion of those women are actually HK residents, which they have often become after marrying a Hong Kong man. Before the government brought in the zero-quota, in 2011, the best estimate is that some 25k of the total 96k births in Hong Kong that year were to women without right of abode in Hong Kong. That is still an awful lot, but your figure of 350k in 5 years is definitely too high - that is closer to the total number of ALL births taken place in Hong Kong over the past 5 years.

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