Officials to get no rest on abode

A Catholic priest has expressed hope that Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu will solve the right-of-abode issue for children of Hongkongers in the mainland after the issue has dragged on for 24 years.

Franco Mella, an activist who has been helping some Hongkongers with such children in the mainland, protested outside the government headquarters in Tamar yesterday.

He said he will sleep outside the government headquarters for 24 days.

Mella, together with seven people whose children are in mainland or do not have the right of abode, held banners with slogans such as "family reunion is a basic human right," "families across the border have been in need for reunion for 24 years" and "the government should take on its responsibility to reunite families and maintain social stability."

The top court ruled in 1999 that all such children should have the right of abode, prompting the SAR to apply for an interpretation by the NPC out of fear that over 1.67 million people would be eligible.

The NPC said that only mainland children of Hong Kong permanent residents holding one-way permits are eligible for the right of abode, and parents who were not permanent residents when they were born should be considered ineligible.

However, in 2011, "overage children" who were under the age of 14 when their fathers or mothers obtained their Hong Kong identity cards on or before November 1, 2001, were allowed to settle in Hong Kong with one-way permit.

But mainland children over 14, approximately over 60,000 in number according to Mella, were excluded in the scheme until today.

The protesters submitted a petition calling on Lee to solve the problem and said the officials failed to keep their promises to consider expanding the 2011 scheme.