Monday, April 29, 2013

In the Press: Prof. Mathews Criticizes Hong Kong's Policies on Asylum Seekers

Banging African drums and chanting words such as “justice,” hundreds of asylum seekers and torture claimants marched from Central to the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai on 28 April 2013 to protest against what is deemed unjust screening procedures of UNHCR and the government.(To see the full report of the protest, please visit South China Morning Post.)Prof. Gordon Mathews and Prof. Sea-ling Cheng joined and supported the protest. 

Prof. Mathews supported the protest.
"The Hong Kong government, in its treatment of asylum seekers, is apparently trying to be humane. However, the effect of its policy is the exact opposite of what it intends, rewarding those who are most undeserving, and harming those who are most deserving." Prof Mathews diagnoses the problems of the current  system in the article Open and Shut Cases, written for South China Morning Post.

According to him, Hong Kong's policies appear to be reasonable, and they could become a model of effective, humane government, if comprehensive refugee policies were implemented, and the process was speeded up.

Prof. Sea-ling Cheng marched with asylum seekers.
One of the major problems is that the screening procedures of UNHCR and the government are inadequate, sometimes giving the undeserving refugee status, while denying the most deserving. They can also be unbelievably lengthy, taking five or more years to complete

He further points out how the current system serves for Hong Kong economy:

"The current system allows the Hong Kong government to deny permanent settlement to people it deems lack the skills to contribute to society, while providing the means to closely monitor the illegal population needed for the profit of many Hong Kong businesses.

If this is indeed the case, then it may be that the present shortcomings in policy towards asylum seekers in Hong Kong are not only matters of unforeseen consequences, but a matter of entirely foreseen intent. Could it be that the Hong Kong government actively seeks for its policy towards asylum seekers to fail?"

The current system provides the means to closely monitor the illegal population needed for the profit of many Hong Kong businesses.

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