A leader of Hong Kong's Catholic Church yesterday appealed to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa to exercise his discretion and allow a mainland right-of-abode seeker who excelled in her HKCEE exams to stay on and continue her studies. Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, assistant bishop of the Hong Kong Diocese, spoke out a day after Cheung Siu-ping, 19, was told by the Immigration Department she would be repatriated to the mainland on Wednesday despite her appeal for compassionate treatment. Siu-ping has been offered a Form Six place at Bethel High School in Yuen Long after scoring 20 points. She was among the top 20 per cent of students sitting the public examination who won school places. The teenager, who has been in Hong Kong for three years, has appealed to the Director of Immigration seeking compassionate treatment to allow her to continue her studies. On Friday, she was told discretion would not be granted and she would have to return to the mainland by Wednesday when her permit expires. A spokesman for the Immigration Department said the circumstances surrounding Siu-ping's appeal did not have 'sufficiently strong' humanitarian grounds. However, Bishop Zen said the situation was 'ridiculous' and urged Mr Tung to intervene. 'Tung could make a difference, if he's willing to,' Bishop Zen said. 'As the head of Hong Kong, he certainly could exercise discretion in a few cases like this one, if he's determined enough.' Siu-ping said yesterday she was worried about the difficulties she might face on the mainland after being outside the school system for three years. She said her HKCEE results would not be recognised and she would have to start all over again. She came on a two-way permit in 1999 and has been allowed to overstay her permit while joining the fight for abode with other mainlanders. 'The letter ended all my dreams,' she said yesterday. 'I feel extremely sad and dejected about the decision. 'I envy my classmates who can continue their studies. I was also born to Hong Kong parents like my classmates, but I cannot study like them,' she said. The department spokesman said there were many appeals being filed by young abode seekers for discretion because of their studies in Hong Kong. Legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said he hoped the government could exercise more flexibility in cases related to students.