Race bias in HK 'not serious'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 12:00am

A senior official has argued that race bias is not serious in Hong Kong, amid claims the Government is dragging its feet in implementing anti-discrimination legislation.

Secretary for Home Affairs Lam Woon-kwong said in yesterday's legco session that racial discrimination in the SAR was not serious enough to warrant urgent new laws.

'Hong Kong is a city with six million people and a very open society, to not have any type of racial discrimination is impossible,' he said. 'But looking at it from an international perspective, is the situation so dire as to warrant legislation? I think most Hong Kong people will not think the situation is that serious.

'And if it's not that serious, and there exists strongly divided viewpoints in our society, it would be better to proceed slowly.'

In August last year, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination voiced concerns over the lack of provisions in Hong Kong to guard individuals against racial bias from private parties.

Mr Lam said that the Government must be cautious in moving ahead to comply with the concerns raised by the UN as the issues involved were sensitive, with views divided within the community.

He also said the Government had a responsibility to comply with the UN's racial bias concerns, but that legislation might not be absolutely necessary.

Human rights groups have raised concerns that the Government will reject legislation against racial discrimination in favour of public education.

The UN has asked the SAR Government to submit a report on its progress in enacting anti-racial discrimination laws by June next year.