TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of student representatives from Hong Kong universities made a plea on Tuesday (Dec. 3) for the expedited passage of the Refugee Act in Taiwan and an institutionalized mechanism for asylum seekers from the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
The siege of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University last month resulted in 1,377 arrests, 318 of them underage, following a week-long standoff between protestors and police, noted Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), a legislator of the New Power Party. Many of the arrestees could face a sentence of up to ten years on rioting charges, reported CNA.
The Refugee Act draft bill has been on the back burner in the legislature for over 10 years. According to one of the participating student representatives, the regulation currently governing issues pertaining to Hong Kong and Macau has been inadequate in addressing the needs of individuals from the two areas who wish to apply for aid or asylum via a transparent and traceable system.
The administration of Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in September ruled out the possibility of assisting Hongkongers through a refugee act, suggesting that existing laws have been sufficient in dealing with related issues.
Without a sound legal foundation, establishing a “rescue scheme” for Hong Kong activists and protesters is not viable, Hsu stressed. He blasted officials of the National Immigration Agency and Mainland Affairs Council for being absent from the press conference to avoid meeting with the students, wrote Liberty Times.
“While the ruling Democratic Progressive Party continues to reap political dividends from the months-long democracy protests in Hong Kong, the Taiwanese government has failed to take a more proactive role in helping out the Hongkongers,” said Hsu, infuriated.
The group urged all the party caucuses in Taiwan’s legislature to place the utmost importance on reviewing the Refugee Act. They also called upon the country to implement a mechanism granting Hongkongers residency without employment restrictions under special circumstances, according to Liberty Times.