Challenge on second passports

Linda Choy

MEMBERS of China's working panel for post-1997 Hong Kong who hold a second passport will be challenged at the plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing next month.

NPC deputy and long-time pro-China figure Dorothy Liu Yiu-chu will ask for an official stance on the issue.

Ms Liu, who has been critical of the composition of the panel, the Preliminary Working Committee (PWC), said it was up to the NPC deputies to ensure the PWC - formed under a decision of the NPC Standing Committee - was run properly.

''We have to make sure whether those sitting on the panel have full allegiance to the Chinese Government.

''Do people holding a second passport represent the interests of a foreign government or do they represent Hong Kong people?'' Ms Liu asked.

At least seven of the 30 Hong Kong PWC members hold foreign passports.

They are: the Hong kong co-convenor of the economic sub-group, Nellie Fong Wong Kut-man; and members David Chu Yu-lin, Lo Tak-sing, Lau Wong-fat, David Li Kwok-po, Maria Tam Wai-chu and Shao Yau-po.

Ms Liu said some of the PWC members were misleading the public by not making their views clear.

Last night, Mrs Fong said it did not matter which passports members of the PWC held. ''We joined the PWC as Hong Kong citizens and we are working for the transition of Hong Kong.

''The situation of Hong Kong is very special. Even in the Executive Council, we do not know how many councillors are holders of foreign passports.'' Mrs Fong said she did not agree there was a problem of dual allegiance, because the foreign passport was merely a travel document.

Colleague Mr Chu offered to give up his American passport, but withdrew the offer for fear this might have too great an impact on other PWC figures.

Although members have said no nationality restriction should be imposed on the PWC, which is a working body, Ms Liu said the situation was unacceptable.

She will also file a question on the criteria by which the PWC members are selected.

''I want to know who had been consulted over the appointment. Has anyone ever been consulted or was it decided after the decision of a core group of leaders only? ''And why is it that most of the NPC deputies have not been recruited by the panel?'' Ms Liu asked.

The issue will be discussed among local NPC deputies during a trip to Guangzhou to attend the Guangdong NPC meeting on Saturday.

Ms Liu has accused some PWC members of being ''running dogs'' - that is, having switched allegiance from Britain to China for reasons of self-interest.

She broke into tears when attending the first PWC meeting, when she found former Executive Councillor Sir Sze-yuen Chung sitting next to her.

''I simply could not accept that these people, who used to be in the British political camp, have now shifted to our camp, taking up very important posts,'' she said.

Ms Liu said she was so confused by phrases such as ''the Chinese side'' and ''the British side'' flying across the conference table she could not stop her tears.