Three-quarters of the high-speed railway has been completed, and spaces have been reserved at the West Kowloon terminus for the co-location arrangement, the MTR Corporation said on Sunday during lawmakers’ visit to the site.
The MTR Corporation said that the terminus was designed based on principles of co-location arrangement, where both Hong Kong and Mainland customs officers would set up checkpoints there.
“I think this project is very important to Hong Kong. If the project ends up being unfinished because it cannot get extra funding, it will be such a pity,” said the incoming Chairman of the MTR Corporation, Frederick Ma Si-hang.
On Sunday, 11 lawmakers visited the construction site of the terminus to understand its work progress. Lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing of the Federation of Trade Unions said that spaces were left for the checkpoints at the departure hall, and the construction of facilities had made good progress. He said that the project should not delay any more.
Chairman of the Legislative Council’s Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, Ben Chan Han-pan, said that the construction must continue to avoid wasting the government’s investment.
Helena Wong Pik-wan of the Democratic Party said the approval for extra money would be difficult to pass in the Legislative Council, since the government still had not put forward a viable plan. She added that the government should not “turn West Kowloon into Mainland”, so if the project was eventually left unfinished, it would be the government’s fault.
Lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun said if the railway was set to open in the third quarter of 2018, the government had to start the bidding and design the flow of co-location in February. “I guess even if the government has confirmed the co-location arrangement in February, a lot of arguments might still exist,” Tien added.
National People’s Congress Standing Committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said she did not think bringing in relevant Chinese security laws to the Basic Law would threaten the “one country, two systems” policy.
“Law enforcement officers from the Mainland carry out immigration and customs-related tasks in specific areas – I really could not see how it could harm the ‘one country, two systems’ principles,” Fan said. “If the Central Government has to control Hong Kong, it can do so in many ways.”
Request for additional funding of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link has sparked discussions on Hong Kong’s sovereignty if Mainland officers were allowed to enforce laws at the West Kowloon terminus in the future.
The Legislative Council’s Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways will discuss the progress of the Hong Kong section on Monday.