The grandmother of a 12-year-old boy who lived undocumented in Hong Kong for nine years has been convicted of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring a breach of conditions of stay.

Chow Siu-shuen, grandmother of Xiao Youhuai, or Siu Yau-wai in Cantonese, pleaded guilty at the Shatin Magistrates’ Courts on Monday. Xiao was allowed to stay in Hong Kong between October 27 and November 3 in 2006, but he stayed until May 21 this year.

The lawyer for Chow said in court that she committed the offence out of love for her grandson and that there was no personal financial gain for her. The lawyer said that she thought Xiao could not survive by himself if he did not stay in Hong Kong with her, RTHK reported.

Chow Siu-shuen. Photo: Stand News/TVB screen capture.

Chow now mostly resides in Shenzhen to take care of Xiao and only comes to Hong Kong when she is needed to appear in court. The defence also said that Xiao “cries, feels a lot of pressure, cannot sleep” each night since the incident, Ming Pao reported.

Principal Magistrate Andrew Ma said that she should be jailed immediately for up to six months, but he has adjourned the case to November 10 as the court adopted an “open attitude” to her case and will await reports from her probation officer.

She was released on HK$500 bail and is allowed to leave Hong Kong.

Xiao and his grandmother.

The overstay was revealed in May at a press conference organised by Chan Yuen-han of the Federation of Trade Unions. Xiao, whose parents abandoned him, was brought from mainland China to Hong Kong by Chow on a two-way permit, which he overstayed.

Neither Xiao nor his parents are from Hong Kong, thus he had no right to stay in Hong Kong. Chan Yuen-han came under fire for assisting Xiao, with protesters demonstrating outside Chan’s Wong Tai Sin offices, criticising Chan for damaging the rule of law and demanding the immediate deportation of Xiao.

The Immigration Department has granted Xiao recognizance, but he was voluntarily deported back to mainland China in June.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.