DAB candidates reject rights for new mainland arrivals

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 September, 2004, 12:00am

Poll shows U-turn, while Liberals refuse to show their hand on minorities' rights

DAB candidates have reversed their position on the rights of new mainland arrivals, a Society for Community Organisation (Soco) poll suggests.

Soco organiser Sze Lai-shan said all DAB candidates who responded opposed extending the proposed racism law to mainlanders, a position they had advocated in a Legco debate last year.

Most disagreed with scrapping the seven-year rule for access to social welfare benefits.

Soco sent questionnaires to 159 candidates to gauge their stance on ethnic minorities, new mainland immigrants and the race discrimination bill.

Of the 105 replies, almost 60 per cent said new arrivals from the mainland faced discrimination and 53.8 per cent supported extending the protection of the racism law to them. About 42 per cent said the seven-year welfare rule should be scrapped, while 56 per cent, mostly DAB candidates, disagreed.

Ms Sze said all DAB candidates said they opposed extending the racism law to cover mainlanders.

'The Liberal Party simply sent us a reply letter saying they were concerned about new immigrants but doubted whether to include them in the law and they would decide on the racism law after the elections,' Ms Sze said.

'But the point of this questionnaire was to inform voters of their stance on issues important to ethnic minorities and new arrivals.'

All respondents supported special measures to help ethnic minorities, such as placing interpreters at hospitals and providing special opportunities for vocational training.

Soco decided to endorse candidates from the Democratic Party, the Confederation of Trade Unions and The Frontier as the most friendly to minorities, new immigrants and an anti-racism law.

Soco's Annie Lin, who co-ordinated the study with Ms Sze, said the racism law should be modelled on more liberal overseas regulations rather than on Hong Kong's existing anti-discrimination ordinances on sex, family status and disability.

Forty-four per cent of respondents agreed with this position, while all DAB candidates opposed it.

'The government cannot forget the contribution of migrants to Hong Kong,' Ms Lin said. She reminded candidates there were more than 700,000 ethnic minorities and new immigrants from the mainland.