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The head of the Equal Opportunities Commission has condemned lawmakers for a newspaper advertisement he says might promote discrimination against mainland migrants, amid growing cross-border tension.
NeoDemocrat lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai, one of those who initiated the advertisement, could further fan the flames of discord with a Legislative Council motion calling on the government to put the interests of Hongkongers first in every policymaking decision.
The advertisement, signed by more than 300 people, was published in two local and one Taiwanese newspapers. It called for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down, for a review of the individual visit scheme for tourists and changes to the 150-a-day quota of one-way permit holders arriving from the mainland to settle in Hong Kong.
Commenting on the rights of new migrants and the rising number of mainland visitors, commission chairperson Dr York Chow Yat-ngok said there were no grounds for discrimination regardless of background.
"I am aware of the comments, in particular against mainlanders, new migrants and mainland parents," he said. "Hong Kong has limited resources, but anyone who comes to the city must be treated equally. Those who hold public office, or those lawmakers who represent our people, should not make irresponsible remarks."
Chow's remarks followed criticism of the advertisement made by a concern group for cross-border families last week. The group demanded Fan and Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching apologise and said it would file a complaint to the commission this week.
Mo and another person behind the advertisement, Roy Tam Hoi-pong, yesterday rejected the discrimination claim.
"We never said the new migrants were a burden on Hong Kong," Mo said.
Fan reiterated that Hong Kong should grasp the right to screen applicants for a one-way permit, a power that rests with mainland authorities.