Security officials have rejected calls to verify the number of mainland children who were estimated to be eligible for right of abode in Hong Kong before the reinterpretation of the Basic Law in 1999. They said it would send a 'very wrong message' that the immigration policy would change. Legco security panel members made the calls yesterday after discovering only 150,000 of the 270,000 mainland children the government now estimates are eligible to settle in the city have done so since the handover. A Census and Statistics Department estimate in May 1999 said there were 1.67 million mainland children of Hong Kong residents. The figure was later revised to 1.6 million. But after a reinterpretation of the Basic Law on June 26, 1999 - a move that overturned a Court of Final Appeal verdict in favour of abode seekers - most of the 1.6 million mainland children became ineligible as their parents were not Hong Kong permanent residents at the time of their birth. The government then revised the estimate to 270,000. So far only about 150,000 have arrived and only 6,003 have been asked to take a DNA test to prove their link with their parents. Legislators Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee and Cheung Man-kwong said the government should conduct another survey as there was no evidence to prove the accuracy of the 1.6 million figure. 'We raise the topic again today not because we want to reopen the legal battle but because the number of right of abode seekers is far less than what was expected,' Ms Ng said. But Deputy Secretary for Security Michael Wong Wai-lun said there was no need for another survey. 'Such a move will send a very wrong message that the gathering of such figures implies that there will be a change in policy.' Assistant Commissioner of Census and Statistics Alvin Li Wing-kong said he was satisfied with how the original survey was conducted. About 300 abode seekers protested outside Legco as their representatives urged officials to allow 7,000 claimants who were in Hong Kong before the Court of Final Appeal's revised ruling on January 10, 2002, to settle in the city. About 660 are still in Hong Kong.