Two Beijing advisers clashed yesterday over whether to ask the National People's Congress (NPC) to intervene in the right of abode controversy. Member of the influential Basic Law Committee Maria Tam Wai-chu said a reinterpretation of the Basic Law could help solve the problem posed by the estimated 1.67 million mainlanders who are entitled to live here. But NPC deputy Allen Lee Peng-fei warned that such a move would damage the independence of the Judiciary. Mr Lee said: 'Asking the NPC Standing Committee to reinterpret the Basic Law is an extremely dangerous action. It amounts to abolishing our Court of Final Appeal.' He said the best solution was to amend the Basic Law. 'The Basic Law is not so holy that it can't be changed. It has its own mechanism for amendment.' But Ms Tam argued: 'The problem is not in the Basic Law but that people cannot see how it should be interpreted.' She said the Preparatory Committee, of which she and Mr Lee were members, had passed a resolution in August 1996 that children born to parents who were not at the time permanent residents did not have the right of abode. 'I am surprised that Mr Lee seems to have totally forgotten his participation,' she said. However, Basic Law Committee colleague Professor Albert Chen Hung-yee agreed with Mr Lee. 'Any attempt by the NPC to correct, override, or reinterpret the articles could seriously damage Hong Kong's autonomy.' He said reinterpretation might give rise to fresh debate. Article 158 of the Basic Law says the SAR courts should follow the interpretation of the NPC Standing Committee, but also states 'the judgments previously rendered shall not be affected'.