SCMP Friday, August 4, 2000


Culprits 'must feel force of law'


Some abode-seekers had been "stirring up trouble" for a long time, Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying said yesterday.

Speaking after visiting victims of Wednesday's attack on immigration officers, Mr Leung urged people not to give false hope to mainlanders seeking the right of abode. He said claimants should be "pragmatic" about their chances of winning court battles for the right to stay.

"I think those people who intentionally injured [immigration officers] should face the full weight of Hong Kong's rule of law and condemnation from the public," he said.

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa wrote to immigration chief Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong yesterday to express shock at the "senseless behaviour". He voiced his "deep concerns about the violent and irrational actions taken by some right-of-abode claimants".

"No doubt, colleagues in your department will feel angered and be emotionally disturbed by this incident," Mr Tung said. "I take pride that your staff have demonstrated much professionalism and courage in carrying out their duties loyally without any fear, even in difficult circumstances. They have all brought much credit and respect for our immigration service."

Speaking during a visit to the Australian city of Adelaide, Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen called for calm. "My first, really first, thoughts go to those victims, innocent people, and their families who have been injured on this occasion." He said Hong Kong, though a tolerant community, "cannot tolerate lawlessness of this kind" and would allow the law to take its course.

Mr Tsang added that the solution should be a peaceful one. "Hong Kong is a mature society, we should tackle it rationally, and face it with calm."

Thirteen civil service unions said in a statement they were shocked by the violence and urged the Government to tighten security measures.

Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming said the attackers deserved no sympathy, while the Liberal Party urged more speed in the appeal procedures and judicial process to allow for early repatriation of those not winning right of abode.

Lee Cho-jat, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, urged abode-seekers to be patient and not to resort to violence.

Beijing Liaison Office deputy director Wang Fengchao said he was shocked and concerned, adding that the abode-seekers should abide by the law.