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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 4:48am
NewsHong Kong
WELFARE

Mainland Chinese to test seven-year rule on qualification for Hong Kong housing

Denial of flat to mainlander who's lived in HK for 5 years to be challenged

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2013, 11:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 6:02am

The government's welfare policies will face a new legal challenge when a mainland immigrant seeks a judicial review of a decision to deny her public housing because she has not lived in Hong Kong for seven years.

The unnamed 40-year-old is expected to make the application after the Court of Final Appeal ruled on Tuesday that a similar requirement preventing new arrivals from claiming Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) was unlawful.

The woman is working with the Article 35 Concern Group, which campaigns on legal matters. "We will win, as the requirement is unconstitutional," the group's Foo Wai-lok said.

The woman, who moved from Shenzhen five years ago, shares a subdivided flat in Sham Shui Po with her daughter, four.

The fallout from Tuesday's social security ruling continued yesterday, with a former head of the government's think tank calling for talks between Hong Kong and Beijing on tightening controls over the one-way permits under which mainlanders can settle in the city.

"The government will be under huge pressure to tighten the policy for mainlanders migrating to Hong Kong," said Professor Lau Siu-kai, former head of the Central Policy Unit. "But the power to make these decision lies with the central government. It will most definitely cause the government a lot of headaches."

Nelson Chow Wing-sun, a professor of social work at the University of Hong Kong, said Article 22 of the Basic Law granted the right to decide which mainlanders settled in Hong Kong to Beijing, and made it "virtually impossible" for Hong Kong to take decisions on one-way permits. But there was scope for negotiation on matters such as the number of permits issued and the criteria for giving them out.

The scheme was introduced in 1980 to allow families divided by the border to reunite. About 50,000 people a year migrate to Hong Kong under quotas granted under the scheme.

"In the past, Hongkongers who weren't well off would often ask their families on the mainland to refrain from coming down," Chow said. "The ruling could prompt more people who may not have the means to provide for their families to migrate down now. But as to how big this number will be, we won't know."

Chow said fewer than 10 per cent of mainland migrants claimed CSSA, a ratio only slightly higher than among locals.

The Society for Community Organisation, which worked with the plaintiff in the welfare case, said it received hate mail accusing it of "siding with mainlanders". At least three Facebook groups have been set up to protest against the ruling.

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Shadow
In Hong Kong, rich enjoys a high profile life. poor enjoys welfare benefits and middle class like me, working harder and harder and paying taxes and getting nothing.
whoaman
Welfare payments to those in need I can accept, but giving housing to a non-permanent resident when there is a long waiting list for permanent residents already is totally unacceptable, IMO. If the court rules in their favour, this will undoubtedly provoke yet another backlash against mainlanders. Unfortunately, this is the future for Hong Kong. Give it another 10 years, and Mandarin will be the main language, and every trash bin (and surrounding area) a urinal.
HK-Explorer
The Hong Kong government has an extreme amount of control on who comes in. Even though the article says that it is up to Beijing I am sure they will take HKs suggestions on who can enter.
Not because Beijing loves HK but mainly they have so many people they don't care who goes. If HK gives them requirements they will simply be recorded and given to those who vet applicants.
If we said only University graduates who earn over X$$ I am sure that would be followed.
The only real issue is that there is a high chance that HK government wants uneducated people to come in and take low wage jobs as it keeps wages down and businesses happy. It is more of a special interest policy than really a Beijing one. (I doubt Beijing has given even 1 hour thought to who gets in - they just don't care).
ngsw
They come to have a benefit that I am, being a permanent resident paying tax for over half a century, not entitled to have it.
cheechee129
Well... the ruling of 7-year residency requirement of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance benefits indeed has far reaching impacts. More judical review on welfare benefits are expected.

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