But academics who pushed for the easing of police powers are upset that the NPC will not address the issue Academics lobbying for the abolition of the custody and repatriation system have hailed a State Council decision to revoke a regulation giving police extensive powers to detain and repatriate people found without urban residency permits in cities. However, they expressed disappointment that the issue has not been brought before the National People's Congress (NPC). 'I am moved because I think of the three million migrant workers who will no longer have to suffer discrimination and humiliation,' said Xu Zhiyong of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication. 'Our appeal had some effect but what is most important is that our higher quest for investigation into laws that violate the constitution has been restrained,' added Dr Xu, one of three legal experts who penned a petition to the NPC to look into the constitutionality of custody and repatriation regulations following the death in custody of Sun Zhigang. Sun, 27, a Wuhan university graduate, was detained by police after failing to provide papers permitting him to stay in Guangzhou and sent to a custody centre. He died three days later in a hospital for detainees. 'It's a battle won but a war lost,' Dr Xu said. 'We are disappointed because we had wanted the National People's Congress to take up this issue so that a procedure can be established for investigating unconstitutional laws. 'That is more important than reforming a single law.' Premier Wen Jiabao decided to revoke the 1982 regulation at a meeting of the State Council on Wednesday, Xinhua reported. The regulation, which covers provision for shelter for beggars and vagrants in urban areas, had attracted calls for its abolition after cases of police brutality and extortion emerged. But it was Sun's death that sparked public outcry. Migrant workers at Guangzhou Railway Station yesterday were sceptical that they would be protected by the new regulations. Chu Chungrui from Shaanxi and Gao Rui from Shanxi, both working in Dongguan, were surprised to hear the news. 'Just yesterday we were asked for our sponsorship permits. If we did not have one, we would have been fined 50 yuan [HK$47]. Many people were fined. Many people are afraid to go out now,' Ms Chu said. 'If they want to fine us there is nothing we can do.' Another migrant worker from Hunan, Li Jie, said she had read about Sun in newspapers. 'I can't say [it's safer now]. They can arrest you any time,' she said. Zhang Jun, from Hunan, expressed bitterness at the treatment of migrants such as Sun. 'We are all Chinese and Chinese have beaten another Chinese to death,' he said. An official at the Guangdong civil affairs department said the ministry had not notified them about the abolition of custody and repatriation but that he took the newspaper reports about the revocation as fact. 'Before new regulations come out we will still use the old ways of managing migrant workers,' he said.