Emily Lau calls for immigration bill reassurance

Veteran democrat and former journalist, Emily Lau, says the government needs to reassure the public that an immigration bill passed by lawmakers on Wednesday won’t be used to prevent people leaving Hong Kong. The bill targets illegal immigrants and gives authorities the power to decide which passenger or crew member “may or may not be carried”.

On Wednesday, the government said it would only apply to inbound flights, and it would draft subsidiary legislation specifying this.

Lau questioned why authorities didn’t make it clear in the principal legislation.

“It is very, very worrying and many people are preparing to leave with their BNO visa. And they fear, rightly or wrongly, that they may be stopped from leaving,” she said.

Lau admitted others weren’t concerned about the bill but that the Chief Executive Carrie Lam should be doing more to deal with the concerns of those who were.

The UK said last year it would give Hong Kong residents with British National (Overseas), or BNO, status a work and residency visa that can lead to citizenship, following the imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong last June. In retaliation, Beijing said in January that it would no longer recognise the BNO passport.

The BNO passport replaced Hong Kong British passports after handover in 1997. At the time, it only offered consular protection and no option to live and work in the UK.