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MPFA statement

In response to a report in the Wall Street Journal titled “Hong Kong’s Hostage Pensions” concerning applications for early withdrawal of MPF with British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport by MPF scheme members, the MPFA made the following statement today (17 April): 
The MPFA strongly condemns the false allegations made in the report about confiscating scheme members’ MPF assets. Such baseless claims are not only misleading, but undermining the credibility of the MPF System.  The MPFA demands that the Wall Street Journal retracts the misinformation and provides an accurate report based on facts.  

The MPFA reiterates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government announced in January 2021 that British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport is not a valid travel document nor a valid form of proof of identity in Hong Kong. Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme members therefore cannot rely on BN(O) passport or its associated visa as evidence in support of an application for early withdrawal of MPF on grounds of permanent departure (PD) from Hong Kong.  

MPF trustees have the duty to observe Hong Kong laws when assessing applications for early withdrawal of MPF on grounds of permanent departure from Hong Kong. They should act as gate-keeper by reviewing all evidence provided by applicants, and consider the totality of facts and information. Each application should be assessed on its own evidence and circumstances.

The MPFA emphasized that, as a defined contribution retirement savings system, MPF schemes are fully funded and mandatory contributions for a scheme member are fully and immediately vested once they are paid.  MPF is kept in the individual account of the scheme member.  If scheme members wish to withdraw their MPF early on grounds of permanent departure from Hong Kong, they have to provide supporting documents and evidence to the satisfaction of the MPF trustees. If trustees are not satisfied with the evidence and reject the applications, the MPF will remain in the scheme members’ MPF accounts.

An MPFA spokesperson noted that the Chinese and British Governments reached a consensus long ago on how to deal with the issue of Hong Kong residents holding BN(O) passports and exchanged memoranda on the understanding in 1984.  In its memorandum, the British Government clearly pledged not to confer the right of abode in the UK on holders of the BN(O) passport who are Chinese nationals in Hong Kong. The move of the British side has substantively changed the nature of BN(O) passport, and is a fundamental violation of its pledge in its memorandum.  

17 April 2023