Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang expressed hope yesterday that more pro-democracy politicians would be allowed into the mainland after Democrat Lau Chin-shek was allowed to visit his ailing mother in Guangzhou. Mrs Chan said Mr Lau's visit was a good start. 'That's a very good beginning. I hope more Democratic Party members or those who hold dissenting views can gain entry into the mainland to deepen mutual communication and understanding,' she said. It was the first time in 11 years that Mr Lau had seen his mother, who is 93 and in poor health. The visit went ahead on Monday after Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa intervened with the mainland authorities. It is understood Mr Tung's office referred Mr Lau's case to the central Government's liaison office in Hong Kong, which received clearance from Beijing, by treating it as a 'special case' under 'special circumstances', a source said. Beijing has repeatedly denied entry to pro-democracy politicians, sometimes seizing their home return permits at the border. A spokesman for the Chief Executive's Office said permission was granted by the 'relevant central people's Government departments' and that Mr Tung had made 'some suitable arrangements' for Mr Lau. Asked whether Mr Tung would seek to help other Democratic Party members to obtain home return permits, the spokesman said only that Mr Tung 'will do whatever he should'. Information Co-ordinator Stephen Lam Sui-lung said it was not appropriate to discuss individual cases. It is understood the Chief Executive's Office asked Mr Lau to keep a low profile. News of the visit only leaked out when he was seen by a journalist at Guangzhou railway station. Mr Lau was believed to have been issued a one-off visa on humanitarian grounds. He has not visited the mainland since the 1989 Beijing massacre. Mr Lau, whose home return permit expired in 1990-91, is a member of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, which has been branded 'subversive' by the mainland. Speaking of his mother, Mr Lau told TVB yesterday: 'She is so elderly. I very much wanted to see her and tend to her . . . It's a good start.' Szeto Wah, Democratic Party whip and chairman of the Hong Kong alliance, said he believed the visit was an 'isolated case' and did not represent a change of policy towards the democrats. 'It's not a concession. It's a right to which one is entitled,' he said. About 10 alliance members, including Mr Szeto, are unable to enter the mainland. Democrat Cheung Man-kwong, a member of the alliance, praised the decision. 'It's a rare human touch in a politically rigid world,' he said. Fellow Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming said he was surprised. 'It seems Mr Tung has a human touch. I hope he will continue to work on behalf of the brothers and sisters of the Democratic Party and urge the mainland authorities to give them a green light to gain entry into the mainland.' But party colleague James To Kun-sun disagreed that Mr Tung deserved any 'exceptional credit' for his help. 'If the citizens are of the view that it is a right for a national to travel freely in one's own country, then he is merely fulfilling his duty to let people exercise that right,' he said.