The fate of melamine-milk activist Zhao Lianhai (pictured) remains uncertain, despite Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress suggesting he might soon be released on medical parole. There was a heavy police presence outside Zhao's residential complex beyond the Fifth Ring Road in Beijing's Daxing district yesterday, preventing reporters from entering. Five to 10 uniformed guards stood at each of the complex's three entrances and residents in red armbands patrolled. Visitors were required to register at the gate. New security gates were installed at each block after Xinhua on November 23 said Zhao's medical parole was being processed. About 10 guards and residential committee staff stood near Zhao's block, with two guards seen inside it. Calls to Zhao's wife, Li Xuemei, went unanswered and the family's landline was off. Staff at the detention centre in Daxing district, where Zhao was held, said its chief was unavailable for comment. Zhao, 38, was jailed for 2 1/2 years on November 10 for 'provoking quarrels and making trouble' by campaigning for the rights of victims of the melamine scandal, which made nearly 300,000 children ill two years ago. Zhao's son, Zhao Pengrui, had kidney stones that were attributed to melamine-tainted milk. Melamine, an industrial chemical used to make plastics and glue, is added to substandard food, such as watered-down milk, to boost its nitrogen content, allowing it to pass testing for protein levels. Amid strong public outcry over Zhao's sentence, state media issued a report late last month, stating Zhao had decided not to appeal and the judiciary was looking into his application for medical parole. But since then neither the government nor state media has commented on his fate. Medical parole is available after a third of a prisoner's term has been served. Since Zhao was detained for almost a year pending trial, he could be released at any time. But his freedom is likely to be restricted after his release and he could easily go back to jail if he refuses to co-operate with the government, according to Zhao's former lawyer, Li Fangping . Although it is not known whether Zhao has been released, Hong Kong deputies to the NPC received information on Christmas Day that he would be granted medical parole yesterday at the earliest. One deputy, Ip Kwok-him, said the information came from the National People's Congress. 'Although the news that he could be released is belated, it's good news anyway. It's good that he can come out for New Year's Eve,' he said.