SCMP Friday, September 1, 2000

Tung helps missing-boy hunt

CHEUNG CHI-FAI in Shenzhen and ANTOINE SO

More than 7,000 mainland police combed Shenzhen last night for a 15-year-old autistic boy wrongly sent over the border by Hong Kong immigration officers more than a week ago.
The stepped-up search for Yu Man-hon came after Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa spoke to Shenzhen Mayor Yu Youjun and urged him to intensify the hunt for the boy, who has a mental age of two and requires daily medication for hyperactivity.
As public anger over the case mounted, Mr Tung was criticised for failing to act swiftly.
Public Security Bureau officers scoured guesthouses, parks, bridges, back streets and alleys, but by late last night Man-hon was still missing. Lowu assistant bureau head Shen Liying said: "We are very concerned and we have organised officers from different stations to conduct the search."
A spokeswoman for the Chief Executive's Office said Mr Tung phoned Mr Yu yesterday morning and urged him to step up search efforts. She did not say why Mr Tung failed to act earlier this week when the boy's plight was widely reported.
The director of welfare group the Society for Community Organisation, Ho Hei-wah, attacked Mr Tung for not acting sooner. "The Government not only shuns responsibility, it also fails to have the least awareness of the possible consequence," Mr Ho said.
Returning from Shenzhen after a meeting with Guangdong and Shenzhen public security and immigration officials, Assistant Director of Immigration (Control) Tang Man-kit said the department had set up a team to liaise with the mainland on the search, which would be extended to all of Guangdong province. Mr Tang said he was confident the boy was still in Shenzhen.
A delegation from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) which met Guangdong public security officials yesterday said it had been assured no deaths reported in Shenzhen and the province over the past week matched the age and description of Man-hon.
Guangdong police have also set up their own taskforces to follow up on the search. A Shenzhen hotline has been set up for information on (0755) 210 3115 and two in Hong Kong - 2829 3010 during office hours and 2543 1958 after hours.
The DAB's Ma Lik said that over the past few days police over the border had been watching bus and train stations in Shenzhen and would do the same elsewhere in the province for traces of Man-hon, who has a habit of following large crowds on to buses or trains.
"They cannot rule out the possibility that he may have boarded one of the cross-border buses or trains," he said.
Donations have poured in for the boy and his parents, with at least $85,000 already promised for the family to finance their search.
Hong Kong Red Cross assistant secretary-general Wilson Wong Mok-fai said the organisation's Shenzhen branch was also on the lookout for the boy, who ran away from his mother at Yau Ma Tei MTR station last Thursday morning.
He was spotted by officials on the Shenzhen side of the border the same day and sent to the SAR to confirm his identity. Hong Kong officials could not confirm he was an SAR resident during a two-hour interview and he was returned to Shenzhen.