Disabled to boycott women's group gala

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 March, 2004, 12:00am

Representatives of a disabled group have refused to attend the Women's Commission's annual banquet on International Women's Day because it insisted the function be held at Government House, which is far from public transport.

The Association of Women with Disabilities has accused the commission of being insensitive to minorities' needs.

Under the umbrella of the Rehabilitation Alliance of Hong Kong, the association said it decided against attending next Monday's function because there was a shortage of modified buses for the disabled.

Alliance project officer Teri Chan Ka-yee said the commission had not booked any special buses for them.

'Even if we have money, we cannot book any buses because reservations have to be made half a year in advance,' she said. 'We were notified of the function as late as mid-February.'

Ms Chan said the group complained to the commission two years ago that Government House was too far from public transport, adding that their calls had clearly not been heeded.

'We told the commission that if they wanted to encourage wide community participation, the venue has to be close to MTR stations,' Ms Chan said. Taking a taxi is costly and difficult because drivers often discriminate against the disabled, she said.

Ms Chan said this was not the first time the association had felt left out by the commission. She said it failed to invite them to a conference on gender perspectives two years ago.

Lam Wai-ha, of the Women's Coalition, said the commission's action discouraged public participation. 'It tempts people to think that they are catering only to a small group of people,' she said.

But a spokeswoman for the Women's Commission insisted that Government House was a suitable venue for the occasion.

She said the commission had tried to book modified buses but the service was not available on the day in question.