THE Preliminary Working Committee (PWC) failed to decide whether to strip newborn children of illegal immigrants of their right of abode in Hong Kong. After a PWC social and security meeting in Zhuhai, local convenor Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said the issue was too complicated to settle. However, she challenged the statement by the Secretary for Security, Peter Lai Hing-ling, that children of illegal immigrants could obtain permanent residency in their birthplace according to international law. She said such children could be offered right of abode in countries such as the United States and Canada, but only if their mothers had travelled to the places legally. Moreover, according to Hong Kong's immigration law, she added, parents had to have certain links with the territory. 'It will not be in line with the spirit of the legislation if the law is to encourage people to get what they want by illegal means,' Mrs Fan said. She stressed that mainlanders could only reside in Hong Kong if they applied for formal approval according to the Basic Law.