SIMPLE procedures should be adopted to allow expatriates to acquire the right of abode in Hong Kong after 1997, according to the Preliminary Working Committee (PWC) social and security panel. At the end of a full-day session yesterday, mainland co-convenor Wang Shuwen said this was to allow non-Chinese people to stay after the change-over for the development of the Special Administrative Region (SAR). Members of the sub-group, which makes recommendations to the future SAR Preparatory Committee on transitional matters, agreed that objective rules should be set out to determine whether foreigners were willing to make Hong Kong their place of permanent residence. Under Article 24 of the Basic Law, non-Chinese people can obtain the right of abode provided they entered Hong Kong with valid travel documents, have stayed here for a continuous period of seven years, and have taken the territory as their place of permanent residence. Mr Wang said those who wanted to apply for right of abode should first indicate their desire to stay in the territory permanently. Assessment would be made based on whether they had homes and family in Hong Kong, whether they had a stable source of income, and whether they were taxpayers. Mr Wang said the procedure would be as simple as possible. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Policy Viewers conducted a telephone survey last month of 660 people aged over 18 to measure the credibility of China's working panel for Hong Kong's post-1997 government. About 40 per cent of respondents said PWC members did not reflect their opinions. Only 22.1 per cent of the respondents thought the opinions of PWC members reflected their point of view.