Alan Hoo: Bring mainland into West Kowloon, expert suggests

Bring mainland into West Kowloon, expert suggests

Basic Law expert Alan Hoo suggested on Friday that legal problems over plans to ‘co-locate’ border clearance services for the Express Rail Link can be resolved, by declaring an underground area of the West Kowloon Terminus as mainland territory.

This, he said, would allow mainland officers to work freely within a designated area inside the station, and allow trains to travel to and from mainland cities without having to stop at the border.

Hoo, the chairman of the Basic Law Institute, and a member of China’s top advisory body, said this arrangement would be entirely consistent with Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

He explained that under Article Seven of the Basic Law, all land within Hong Kong is state property; and Beijing agreed in 1997 only to give the city autonomy to manage its own territory.

But the State Council order that gives effect to this, Hoo argued, can be defined as the surface area of the city, excluding the airspace, and underground areas.

Therefore, Hong Kong’s autonomy to manage its own land does not include the ‘new’ space created by the construction of an underground station at West Kowloon, which isn’t covered by the 1997 State Council order, Hoo said.

However, Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai dismissed Hoo’s suggestion as “illogical”.

“He limits the boundaries of Hong Kong to only have two dimensions, which is totally impractical, because everybody in Hong Kong knows that, being a human being, we need three dimensions to be a human being,” Wu quipped.

He pointed out that if the government adopts Hoo’s definition of what area falls under the Hong Kong control, that would cause problems with the ownership of underground facilities across the territory.