Hong Kong Politics & Protest Travel & Transport

Pro-democracy lawmakers boycott visit to Express Rail Link terminus until legal questions are answered

Pro-democracy lawmakers have said they will boycott a site visit to the West Kowloon terminus of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

The lawmakers, including Claudia Mo, originally signed up to the visit hosted by the MTR Corporation on Wednesday, but 22 democrats have decided not to attend altogether.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung said the tour was a “trivial matter” compared to the joint checkpoint arrangement row.

Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu

Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Last month, the government announced a controversial joint checkpoint arrangement for the HK$84.4 billion rail project, which involves “leasing” land to China and effectively giving up Hong Kong jurisdiction across a quarter of the terminus.

It defended the arrangement by saying it will be in compliance with the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s de facto constitution – which stipulates mainland laws cannot be implemented in the city. The government says it is a necessary tool to maintain the speed of the rail system.

But democrats have criticised the plan, saying it violates the Basic Law and may have disastrous implications, with more and more Hong Kong land being given away.

“When we have yet to clarify the legal issues, [the MTRC] asks us to go for a site visit – what for?” Yeung asked.

Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link

West Kowloon Terminus of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. Photo: GovHK.

“We will only consider talking about the technical details after officials give answers to our questions on the principles… Otherwise, we will be partaking in a show wearing construction hats and vests – this is not what the democrats do.”

Since the announcement, legal challenges have been filed by those who insist that the arrangement will violate the freedom of Hongkongers when they are in the mainland port area.

The Legislative Council’s House Committee will have a meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue.

See also: Explainer: The controversial joint checkpoint arrangement for Hong Kong’s Express Rail Link

Democratic Party lawmaker James To said they will present dozens of questions.

“After we have the answers, we will only then see how the legal arrangements will be implemented at the site,” he said. “This is logical, and step-by-step.”

Pro-democracy lawmakers boycott visit to Express Rail Link terminus until legal questions are answered