• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 4:30pm
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong may amend its race hate law to protect mainland visitors

Widening the legislation could be an option to protect mainland visitors, says equality chief, after 'anti-locust' protests in Tsim Sha Tsui

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 11:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 9:06am


  • Yes: 18%
  • No: 82%
21 Feb 2014
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 1,400

Hong Kong could extend its anti-discrimination laws to protect mainlanders against abuse, as the debate over the number of visitors to the city becomes increasingly vitriolic.

The chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, said yesterday it was possible to amend race hate laws to cover discrimination against members of the same ethnic group. Chow, a former health minister, said such a move would be difficult but that it was worth considering given the current climate.

Several senior government officials condemned the protest on Sunday that targeted mainland tourists in Tsim Sha Tsui, as animosity reaches new levels in the debate over how many tourists the city can handle.

Under the city's Race Discrimination Ordinance, inciting hatred against a person on the grounds of race or nationality is liable to criminal prosecution. It would not apply to Sunday's incident as mainlanders and Hongkongers are of the same race and nationality.

"We may consider having the law amended to address discrimination within the same ethnic group," Chow said.

"We are in the process of reviewing the anti-discrimination laws, and will factor in the current situation and seek legal advice on how to include clauses to deal with this situation."

No one has been prosecuted under the ordinance since it came into effect in 2009.

Chow said that in 2008, when the ordinance was drafted, the government took the position that mainlanders and Hongkongers should not be differentiated by race and nationality.

Chow described Sunday's "anti-locust" protest, when police had to intervene as 100 people marched from the Star Ferry pier to Canton Road, as "unacceptable".

Slogans such as "Go back to China" and "Reclaim Hong Kong" were chanted, and some protesters shouted abuse at mainlanders. The protesters demanded the government curb tourist numbers to the city. The number of visitors is expected to grow to 100 million a year by 2023.

"Hongkongers have always treasured their freedom to protest and their freedom of speech. But we have to ensure that there is respect. [Hongkongers] cannot infringe upon other's rights," Chow said.

He added that calling mainland tourists "locusts" or other derogatory terms could be considered an act of discrimination.

Chow said legislation should be a last resort. "We should be aiming much higher. Hong Kong is a free and international city."

Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said yesterday the protesters' actions had gone "beyond what is permissible under the law".

"The fact that shops had to stop operating, that customers had to retreat into shops … seems to me that there was a breach of the peace. We are following up with this according to the law and we don't exclude the possibility of making arrests."

A local deputy to the National People's Congress was criticised in an editorial carried by Global Times, a state-run newspaper, for his proposal to limit the number of tourists coming to Hong Kong. It said a proposal by Michael Tien Puk-sun of the New People's Party was "selfish and only trying to maximise Hong Kong's interests".

Additional reporting by Tanna Chong and Ernest Kao


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This article is now closed to comments

What is the difference between the SheungShui protests and the TST protests ? Amazing !
Masters in Beijing must have given their employee CYL a tongue lashing for not controlling uppity HK people, so repress the statement rather than dealing with the problem. He follows the mainland model to a T.
This is so typical Hong Kong:
"Assistant professor of law at the University of Hong Kong Puja Kapai said the existing Race Discrimination Ordinance could arguably be extended to cover mainlanders."
In order to elaborate the real problem, the city's intellectuals and pseudo-politicians are debating the scope of their laws.
Hong Kong and its people should finally learn that they are fully depending on China and its people (the mainlanders). And in this free economy there are always Hong Kongers who profit massively from the mainlanders. Those who actually sell the baby milk formula and the luxury items and whatever to them. Are these people who sell this stuff to mainlanders not Hong Kongers?
Just try to imagine where Hong Kong would be if there would be no China. Hong Kong would be very independent and very much insignificant!
That is pretty much the truth and perhaps too hard to swallow for some Hong Kongers.
Good point. Singapore is utterly irrelevant in SE Asia. Wait, no. An independent city state with solid finance, tourism and trade sector? How could that happen. The truth is the masters in Beijing need us to heel like good pups as they take all the benefits of HK to Shanghai and other cities and then leave us behind. Thank you, comrade. We needed to know that we need to bend over to China.
It's funny how many of these pro-CCP comments come in the wee hours of the morning. Is it because of the time zone difference? What time is it over in your country?
Why Chinese from HK and Taiwan always think they are better Chinese than the ones from mainland? My parents from HK orginally. I remember years ago when HK was still under the control of GB, many HKer were showing off whenever they go. Many of them immigrated to Canada and US in fears of mainland Chinese government after take over HK from GB. These HKers were rude and showing off all the time in Canada. They knock down houses in a historical district and build big ugly new ones that change the landscape of the area. I did not hear any of the Chinese from mainland were joining the force with the foreigners in complaining and bashing them back then. When Chinese from mainland were poor and weak you complain and look down them. Now when they are rich and may abit noise like you were before, you still complain. If Chinese can act like Jews, they would be much stronger as a race. Jews around the world are helping each other among themselve regardless where they are from, from a communist Russia, or democratic countries, they always corporate each other and assist each other when needed. They is why the minority Jews but controls the majority of the wealth and politics in the world. Chinese, on the other hand, like a pile of sand, hardly stand up together for long. There is nothing for the people in HK to show off, give same amount of time to the mainlander, they will surpass people from HK in many areas that is for sure. Go China!
Why do you adopt a non-Chinese name to post? Just wondering.
Act like Jews? Like telling "holocaust" stories? No thanks...
Very good comments but the Jews do not so much help each other any more. It seems like their wealth have also corrupted many of them. Only about 10% left that care about their neighbor. I think the one thing that is missing from all this debate is that people no matter who they are or where they are from are part of the human race and tribalism is a dead practice and brings misery wherever it is enforced.People are people wherever they originate from. Time for all of us to come together and not classify groups. The top of the 1% loves this chaos and disharmony but it is now falling apart. Thank God for the internet where anyone can be exposed for their greed, corruption and lack of good will. No one is better than anyone else. That was taught to me in New York City as a Jew growing up with very open minded and caring people around me who had seen enough suffering in their lives through war, prejudice and misery and went on to build better lives through hard work. But they did not limit their view to only helping each other. They helped whoever they met. That set them apart. Alas their kids went on to become super successful and forgot the lessons of the greatest generation who fought in World Wars and gave and gave and gave. Perhaps China can learn from the people outside their borders who I meet who understand the perils of new money and what you must do to channel that wealth so kids grow up to want to help their neighbor. Ethics will take you much farther than math.
I have just scanned through the readers' comments. Many of you seem fixated on your irreconcilable beef with China's sovereignty and HKSAR government legitimacy. It appears the only way out for you is the pro-Western Ukrainian, Egyptian Islamist or Thailand Yellow Shirt rebellion, which will ultimately lead to violence. Whether you will gain a majority in an election or not is beside the point. Of all belligerents, only the Egyptian opposition has the majority. So don't kid yourselves that democracy is the solution.
Rest assured that the US Consulate General and US Chamber of Commerce will wholeheartedly support your fight for "freedom." Whatever this word means now is anyone's guess.
Be forewarned that your opposition -- those who call you losers in this column -- are just as ideologically hardened. If you have in mind a revolution, their attitude is likely to be an Inspector Harry Callahan invitation: "Go ahead punk, go ahead and make my day!"




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