Friday, 5 June 2015

A 12-year-old's Sorry Saga

Siu Yau-wai (right) with his grandmother with an uncertain future ahead
The story about 12-year-old Siu Yau-wai has ended just as strangely as it began.

After his grandmother read about a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide in Repulse Bay and was found not to have Hong Kong identification papers, Siu's grandmother Chow Siu-chuen went public.

According to Chow, Siu was born across the border, but his father was in an industrial accident, and his mother had breast cancer; they felt the boy was a "bad omen" and abandoned him.

Chow somehow picked him up when he was three and smuggled him across the border. Since then he has been growing up in her home with her elderly husband in Hong Kong and home schooled, but terrified they would be found out.

With the help of Federation of Trade Unions legislator Chan Yuen-han, Siu and Chow managed to get the boy temporary papers from the Immigration Department.

However the issue of Siu's status created a massive uproar in Hong Kong. Some felt the city should be compassionate to the boy and let him stay regardless, since he has spent most of his life here already, while others say he is technically a mainlander and should go back to where he came from.

Then Ming Pao newspaper reported the Public Security Bureau had found the boy's parents and that the father was never in an industrial accident, and that the family actually had an older son.

The grandmother and boy were harassed so much by people who call themselves localists, that they had to move to another location, but even then they were found out.

Yesterday the pair gave up and went to the Immigration Department to surrender and were driven to the border, where Siu's parents were supposed to be there to receive him.

But no one was there and the grandmother and grandson were left on their own, confused and not sure what to do. The boy is now stuck back on the mainland, but has no Chinese identity papers, rendering him stateless yet again.

To describe this entire incident as a mess is an understatement.

It seems each person involved was trying to do what they thought was in the best interests for the boy, but it ended up being even worse.

If it is true Siu's family has an older son, then maybe Siu was undocumented in the first place and may not have a hukou or household registration, allowing him access to education and basic social services.

That may be why his grandmother took him to Hong Kong in the hopes that he would at least have a roof over his head and be looked after, but not having any status in the city made it difficult for him to get any kind of schooling, medical and social services.

Not having clearly thought out what they wanted to do, and the added pressure of localists harassing them exacerbated the situation.

Siu really fell through the loopholes in both the Chinese and Hong Kong systems, and if any or both of these governments cared, they would resolve to fix the problem as soon as possible.

As child advocates point out, children don't choose to be in these situations and its the adults and governments that need to have the best interests of these young people in mind.

The 12-year-old's story has probably left those who are still in hiding to continue to hide, for fear of the backlash that may erupt, and also further dividing Hong Kong over its treatment of stateless children.


  1. OP is mistaken and the kid IS NOT STATELESS. This kid is a PRC CHINESE CITIZEN by birth AND by PRC Chinese law.

    remember the kid is born in China to PRC Chinese parents => PRC citizenship

    Chinese law states "anyone who are born in China, or of Han ancestery (or any china recognized indigenious people) born worldwide are eglibile and recognized as PRC Chinese citizen and treated as such, regardless of other nationality/passports"

    Therefore, the kid is PRC Chinese citizen and NOT STATELESS.

    Besides if this kid given HK residency/citizenship, it would SET VERY BAD LEGAL PRECEDENCE leading to a flood of babies from across the border into Hong Kong.

    1. HI nulle -- this is why I'm saying this incident was handled very badly by everyone involved...