Bar Association chairman Alan Leong Ka-kit, SC, has urged the Government to adopt a more sympathetic approach when considering right of abode for thousands of mainland claimants who lost their cases in the Court of Final Appeal last week. Speaking after the association's annual meeting, Mr Leong refused to comment specifically on the question of whether an amnesty should be granted, saying it was a matter for the Government. However, he said officials should bear in mind the top court's findings that the claimants had a legitimate expectation that, following representations made by the Chief Executive and other senior officials, they would be treated the same as the winning parties in a landmark January 1999 ruling granting right of abode to Chinese citizens born outside the SAR if one parent was a permanent resident. That ruling was, in effect, overturned by a reinterpretation of the Basic Law by Beijing. 'If the administration is reading the judgment with that perspective in mind, that may give them a reason to be more sympathetic in dealing with individual cases when it comes to policy decisions,' Mr Leong said. 'Hong Kong, being a world city, should be tolerant and practise the rule of law in the sense that the law serves the ends of justice and is to protect basic human rights and freedoms.' Last week, the court delivered rulings on 5,114 abode seekers and denied the vast majority the right to remain. Their legal representatives are preparing to petition United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Mr Leong was yesterday re-elected unopposed as Bar chairman, along with two vice-chairmen, Michael Lunn, SC, and Edward Chan, SC, and secretary and treasurer Jat Sew-tong. Mr Leong also echoed the 'serious concern' expressed by Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok- nang at the beginning of the new legal year this week about the quality of lawyers joining the profession. The Bar chairman said that there was an urgent need to review the admission criteria and curriculum of the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL) course that serves as the gateway to becoming a barrister or solicitor.