Racism laws 'vital for world city plan'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 12:00am

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa should outlaw racial discrimination to complement his ambition of turning Hong Kong into Asia's world city, according to a think-tank.

The Civic Exchange, headed by former legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai, made the appeal in a paper to be discussed at the United Nations Conference on Racism and Xenophobia in Durban, South Africa, beginning on August 31.

Racial discrimination in the private sector is not outlawed at the moment. The Government has launched a review but says education rather than legislation is the best way of tackling the problem.

In a 33-page document, exchange researcher and author Kelley Loper argues: 'A new commitment to be Asia's world city means that Hong Kong must embrace diversity and multi-culturalism.'

Fears of an onslaught of litigation six years ago when laws were introduced against sex and disability discrimination had been unfounded.

'Racism is no less wrong than any other form of discrimination. It would be a straightforward matter to add race legislation to the mandate of the commission,' the paper says.

The Home Affairs Bureau remains unconvinced about the need for legislation pending a review.

Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs John Dean said: 'Pending its conclusion, our position remains that, in general, persuasion is preferable to coercion. We will reassess that position when we have concluded the present exercise.'