A police investigation is underway in connection with a reportedly wealthy Hong Kong man alleged to have hired a surrogate mother to bear him triplets.
Surrogacy is prohibited under Hong Kong's Human Reproductive Technology Ordinance (HRTO).
The case was referred to the police by the government.
Independent legislator Cyd Ho raised the issue in the Legislative Council.
The ordinance prohibiting commercial surrogacy came into effect in August 2007.
Health Secretary York Chow, in reply, maintained that surrogacy arrangements are illegal under Hong Kong law, even if performed elsewhere. He told lawmakers that the surrogacy case has been referred to the police, for consideration as to whether enforcement action should be conducted.
Chow did not name the man being investigated. "We do not consider it appropriate to comment on the content of the case and whether there is any violation of the law, as there might be an investigation, enforcement and further legal proceedings in future," he said.
The police confirmed having received a referral concerning a suspected surrogacy case but declined to give further details at this stage.
Sources identified the man as Peter Lee Ka-kit, the 47-year-old unmarried son of Henderson Development Chairman Lee Shau-kee. The reports say he fathered three sons, reportedly through an American surrogate mother, using human reproductive technology. The triplets were then brought back to Hong Kong.
What seemed to be an ordinary piece of gossip among the wealthy turned into a controversial issue stirring heated discussion on the Internet. Children's rights and religious organizations issued public condemnations, calling the alleged arrangement immoral.
Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong, who is a senior counsel himself, said the act, if proven, would be illegal theoretically, but it would be difficult to gather evidence from an overseas agency.
Another solicitor and Democratic Party lawmaker James To doubted the police would be laid in the case since the "commercial" nature of the arrangement could hardly be identified.
"Basically it is an open-and-closed file for police as there is no evidence proving the incident was a trade. There is no basic suspicion or possibility to justify the commercial nature. The police cannot make any charge unless the surrogacy agent or the surrogate mother show us extra evidence," To said. He does not think there is a need to amend the Ordinance at present.
There has been no prosecution made under the HRTO so far in Hong Kong.
(HK Edition 12/02/2010 page1)