Twelve-year-old boy Siu Yau-wai and his grandmother Chow Siu-shuen returned to the Shenzhen after seeking voluntary repatriation. Photo: K.Y.Cheng
In the sorry saga of Siu Yau-wai, the 12-year-old boy who has lived in Hong Kong without identity documents for nine years, the government turns out to be the only party that has behaved with a measure of humanity and legal propriety. It's so rare for such a thing to happen it deserves to be taken notice of when it does.
The case came to light thanks to unionist legislator Chan Yuen-han calling a widely covered press conference to highlight the boy's plight. Chan might have had a good motive, but she failed to anticipate the levels of anti-mainland sentiment the case would provoke. In retrospect, that was not that hard to predict. Yet, the ugly backlash surely must have contributed to Yau-wai and his family's decision to leave Hong Kong and go back to the mainland. Chan clearly bears direct responsibility for the hasty manner in which she exposed the child and his grandmother to a media maelstrom.
Xenophobic groups organised rallies to condemn the family. Some protesters carried photos of young Yau-wai to denounce him as a criminal. They also criticised the Immigration Department for issuing a temporary permit to Yau-wai and protested outside a school that helped assess his scholastic standards, claiming he deserved no right of abode or a local school place. The elementary fact that he wasn't offered the right of abode or a school place seemed to have completely escaped the protesters.
If nothing else, those xenophobes bring out the worst and ugliest of Hong Kong people. So it was left to officials to take care of the kid with some measure of humanity. The temporary permit was given to him as a way to make sure he wouldn't be arrested in the streets. His grandmother was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting others in breach of condition of stay and granted bail. A probe was opened to determine whether there might be a basis to allow Yau-wai to stay in Hong Kong.
Now that he has decided to leave Hong Kong, the department has granted permission to his grandmother to take him back to Shenzhen even though she is on bail. Given the disgraceful and disgusting way he has been treated by the Hong Kong public, who in his right mind would want to stay?