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Macau residents to get easier access to HK

Phyllis Tsang
South China Morning Post
April 9, 2009

Hong Kong would streamline immigration clearance for Macau permanent residents visiting the city, a Security Bureau official told lawmakers yesterday.

Stickers would be issued stating their limit of stay, and the current practice of requiring Macau residents to complete declaration forms would end, the official said.

At a meeting of the Hong Kong legislature's security panel yesterday, lawmakers questioned officials over how the government could provide more convenient clearance for Macau permanent residents visiting the city.

The number of Macau residents visiting Hong Kong rose from 529,700 in 2006 to 665,300 last year, a 25 per cent increase.

Macau permanent residents currently have to produce a declaration form with their identity cards for visits to Hong Kong. They can print the forms at self-service kiosks in Macau before arriving in Hong Kong.

Deputy Secretary for Security Ngai Wing-chit said Hong Kong was working on providing stickers to all Macau residents visiting the city, regardless of whether they were using e-channels or traditional immigration counters.

The assistant director of immigration, Eric Chan Kwok-ki, said date of entry and limit of stay would be printed on the stickers, and the department had prepared the hardware needed for this new process.

Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong, a member of the Macau Legislative Assembly who was invited to attend the panel meeting, said that last year about 2,100 Macau residents had been denied entry to Hong Kong. Most of them had forgotten to bring their declaration forms.

He also said Hong Kong residents were not required to provide similar declaration forms when they visited Macau.

Hong Kong lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee was concerned that the government maintained a blacklist of overseas visitors barred from the city.

Mr Ngai confirmed that the government had a "watch list", which included terrorists who were not welcome in the city, but said a watch list was not the same as a blacklist.

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