Abode seekers among 8,000 who were initially denied Twenty-five abode seekers have been granted Hong Kong residency rights with the help of the central government's liaison office in the city and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. The approval of residency rights for the abode seekers, believed to be the largest group to be granted residency with the DAB's help, is a sign of the political muscle wielded by the long-time Beijing loyalists. The 25 abode seekers, who are in their 20s and 30s and mostly from Fujian and Guangdong provinces, were among 8,000 or so initially denied residency rights by the Hong Kong government. Party chairman Ma Lik said most of the 25 were granted residency on the grounds that their parents were either old or ill. Mr Ma refused to confirm that his party's direct influence helped their appeal succeed, saying that it had helped only to bring their cases to the attention of the mainland's liaison office and Public Security Bureau. His party had submitted a list of 3,000 abode seekers to the liaison office for consideration. According to other abode seekers, the 25 granted residency were all members of the Request for Family Reunion Association, set up in 2003 with the help of DAB. They stayed in Hong Kong on one-year multiple-entry travel permits. The group insists that its member abode seekers do not hold public protests and apply through the proper channels for the mainland authorities' help. Mr Ma said that the approvals came after investigations by the liaison office and security bureau officials to confirm the status of their parents' health. Franco Mella, a Catholic priest who has staged hunger strikes outside the Legislative Council to support abode seekers' pleas for residency, welcomed Mr Ma's help. 'It is a chance for other abode seekers,' he said. 'But why have they helped only so few? The right of abode should be given to all.' Civil rights activist Jackie Hung Ling-yu, who has been fighting for abode seekers' rights since the 1990s, agreed with Father Mella, saying the liaison office should help 6,000 others. 'They all have been waiting for years,' Ms Hung said. 'They and their parents have been suffering for so many years, protesting. They should all be helped, otherwise it is not fair.' Abode seeker Wang En-xiao, who is in her 30s and has been waiting for her right of abode since 1999, welcomed the news. 'It is good news. It gives us hope.' Today is the anniversary of the Court of Final Appeal's January 29, 1999 ruling that children born before their parents became permanent residents were entitled to stay.