Patten solves mum's visa dilemma

GOVERNOR Chris Patten made a dream come true for one family yesterday after reading of their plight in the South China Morning Post .

Kwong Chow Kam-siu was facing the prospect of being repatriated to China, leaving her son, little burns victim Sai-hin, unattended.

The front-page story prompted Mr Patten to intervene personally and ask the Immigration Department to extend Mrs Kwong's visa.

Mr Patten's press secretary Mike Hanson said yesterday Mrs Kwong could stay in the territory as long as the boy was receiving medication in Hongkong.

''There is no question of Mrs Kwong being asked to leave while her son undergoes treatment in Hongkong. Her visa will be extended,'' Mr Hanson said.

''The Immigration Department is also reconsidering her long-term status at the moment.'' Overjoyed at the unexpected news, the Kwongs were close to tears. They never thought the Governor would take up their case personally.

''My greatest hope before was to have my wife's visa extended so she can stay and look after our son,'' said Kwong Kin-keung, the boy's father.

''The news comes really as a surprise to us and I want to say, from deep in my heart, thank you to the Governor. And if possible, say this to him in person,'' Mr Kwong said.

He said he was worried that his wife would have to go back to China this time because three-year-old Sai-hin had just won residency in Hongkong. But now, he could heave a sigh of relief because the uncertainty facing the family was removed.

Mrs Kwong came to Hongkong from Dongguan, Guangdong, in 1991 with her son after Sai-hin suffered serious burns in a fire when he was just one-year-old.

The pair were allowed to stay so the toddler could receive treatment. Since then, the Immigration Department had granted them an extended stay 10 times.

A spokesman from the Immigration Department said the case would not be setting a precedent as each application for extension of stay would be considered individually.