Returnees to Hong Kong slam idea to limit aid for Canadian dual citizens

Suggestion an affront to human rights, say Hongkongers who have returned to city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 7:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 2:10pm

A suggestion to limit consular assistance to Canadians living abroad who hold dual nationality has caused anger in Hong Kong.

The aim of the proposal is to save money by rationing universal assistance for citizens.

It would reduce the largesse and complexity of diplomatic services, a problem identified by bureaucrats.

The idea has upset K.C. Yao, who lived in Toronto for 20 years before moving back to Hong Kong last year.

She is one of an estimated 300,000 Canadian citizens in the city.

"Don't say you're not going to help us if you're overseas for too long. It's ridiculous," she said.

Yao said the proposal, contained in just six paragraphs of a ministerial briefing, gave few details on what kinds of services and rights a dual citizen would lose.

"They are not being specific when they talk about 'consular help'," Yao said.

"The fundamentals in this idea are basic human rights. They cannot differentiate between the rights of a citizen. Once we are naturalised, we are Canadian citizens.

"If they start differentiating, they will discriminate against citizens. It's not equal any more. As far as I'm aware, once I was naturalised, I became a Canadian citizen - that's it."

Yao said a solution would be to either give people with dual citizenship equal access to consular services or restrict Canadians to one passport, one nationality.

"But they can't go back on the law that lets citizens have dual citizenship and justify it," she added.

A law student at City University, Nathan Ma Hin-che, who moved back to Hong Kong from Vancouver to study, said he would not seek assistance from the consulate even if he was in trouble. "But for those who need it, I think they are entitled to it," Ma said.

Michael Hsu, from Vancouver, thought it a "bad proposal".

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada think tank said in a 2011 report that 79 per cent of respondents cited trade and investment inquiries as their reason to contact the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong.

The other main categories of inquiries involved passport and citizenship issues.

A consulate spokesman was unavailable for comment.