Over 20 business and professional groups have formed an alliance in support of the joint checkpoint arrangement at the West Kowloon terminus of the Express Rail Link to Guangzhou.
The proposal will involve “leasing” land to the mainland and effectively giving up Hong Kong jurisdiction across a quarter of the terminus. The Co-location Arrangement Concern Alliance said the arrangement is the best way to make the rail line is effective in order to develop Hong Kong.
Clarence Leung, chairman of the youth committee of the Business and Professional Alliance (BPA), is the spokesperson for the alliance. He said the group will not focus on the legal aspects of the issue since they are not experts. Instead, it will look at the arrangement from the perspective of a “user group,” in which the members have contributed to the local economy.
“Hopefully the society will be engaged in a more rational discussion about this scheme,” Leung said.
Leung is also the son of Legislative Council President Andrew Leung, who is a member of the BPA party.
A key controversy of the proposal is that a part of Hong Kong land will be declared a “mainland port area,” where local laws no longer apply. Thus, the requirement in Hong Kong’s de facto constitution in which mainland laws cannot be implemented in Hong Kong is bypassed.
Leung said the arrangement complies with the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, the Basic Law, and is feasible in terms of operation to prevent security loopholes.
But Leung did not directly clarify which part of the proposal complies with the Basic Law. He said there have been many recent news articles discussing the issue.
The alliance will conduct promotions online and host forums in support of the arrangement.
The formation of the pro-Beijing alliance came after the pro-democracy camp set up its concern group last week, which opposes the arrangement. The new alliance shares a similar name with the pro-democracy “Co-location Concern Group.”
Leung said he was not concerned that the public will be confused between the two, since their arguments are different and represent different communities.
“We wish to give comments from business and professional groups. We will not comment on other groups,” he said, when asking if the new alliance was formed to sway public opinion away from the pro-democracy group.
Leung also said it was up to the government to decide whether to launch a public consultation.
Tanya Chan, who leads the pro-democracy group, said the formation of a new alliance was a good thing since there will be more discussion in society about the joint checkpoint arrangement.
She said the alliance should note the social cost of the arrangement, other than just the benefit to the business sector.
Chan also said the alliance did not put forward any new argument to support the arrangement, or provide reasons explaining its legality. She questioned whether the alliance was merely a “cheer-leading team” for the government.