• Sun
  • Jul 13, 2014
  • Updated: 9:16pm
NewsHong Kong
LAW

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
 

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  • No: 82%
21 Feb 2014
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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

ed_kwok
A usual, our government officials (who are amongst the highest paid in the world) see the symptoms but never understand the problem. Nobody in Hong Kong is against mainland visitors just because they come from the mainland. Rather, Hong Kong people are against the rude behaviour and exploitative attitude shown by many visitors and unfortunately most of these problematic visitors are from the mainland. I give you one example of rude behaviour: when Japanese tour groups assemble on a pavement they politely line up on one side to make way for the locals to pass but when mainland tourists assemble they block the whole pavement and force the locals to either push their way through or step onto the dangerous roadway. Exploitative attitude ranges from the cross boarder smugglers (money) to emergency ward births (subsidised heath care and free citizenship). The point is that many Hong Kong citizens are now asking a simple question: what's in it for me? I encourage our government officials and the tourist sector to seriously consider that and do something to return more benefits to the average Hong Kong citizen. Start with an arrivals tax.
HK-Lover
The behaviour of the demonstrators is to be condemned for some of the their actions. For sure.
However, the root for them to take to the streets lies in the fact that the HK citizens are greatly inconvenienced and feeling their livelihood being threatened by the shear masses coming from the mainland. It's not so much the mainlanders as such but the shear number who take away facilities meant to be for HK citizens (kindergarten, maternity wards, basic foodstuff (milk powder) to name only a few). Furthermore are they a big part in making property unaffordable for the ordinary HK citizen.
HK is overrun by tourists groups from the mainland but the government hasn't ensured that HK's infrastructure can cope with these masses of tourists groups. These groups do cause great inconvenience to the ordinary HK citizen. Tourist buses block roads, occupy parking spaces meant to be for the HK citizen, cause pollution with idling engines. It's no fun if you want have a quick lunch or want to buy your groceries and always need to navigate your way through hordes of mainland tourist groups that block walkways, shop entrances, pedestrian crossings etc.
The government has to wake up and start to control the numbers of people coming from the north, being it tourists or immigrants. HK is way beyond its limits to accommodate the current stream of people coming from the north into HK day after day.
johnh
Once again, the Hong Kong government demonstrates how it gives priority to Mainlanders over it's own people.
patrick.gifford.180
There should be a heavy sales tax on buyers from mainland China. the government should redistribute the money to hong kong people.
lxflyer
that's a joke. you mean it doesn't apply already?? i work in the english language industry where agents, schools and other employers discriminate against overseas born chinese routinely. in certain education sectors, there is a preference for caucasian teachers - even if s/he is not a native english speaker. meanwhile, qualified ABC's/CBC's have to prove constantly prove themselves, and i've even heard of one place paying them less than opn the basis of their ethnicity.
A Hong Konger
Obviously the protest was a form of hate (though not hate speech yet). Regardless of ones feelings over the protest, many of us hate the mainland and the rest of us understand why even if we pretend not to. This hate was not always this strong, but the changes Beijing has forced on us since 97' (if not longer), squeezing the poor from their homes, taking our freedoms, rewarding the rich and a deliberate campaign to marginalise HKers through quasi-colonisation, has sharply divided us.
We saw two ends of the bell curve the other day, one fawning sycophants who would gleefully give away everything we have to China, the other snarling 'localists' whose fury clumsily target tourists instead of policy makers. The highly visible protest has already taken us a step closer to an independence debate; rather than dismissing the latter group as ultra-'localist', we understand and even sympathise with their motivation (not methods), the prior we do not. The comparisons of ultra-'localist' to overseas ultra-nationalists shows a perception not lost on us. Amending the race hate law to protect mainlanders may help gentrify & formalise anti-mainland discussion away from hateful protests to philosophical and political spheres, while further defining HKers as distinct from Chinese nationals. Given the HK-Sino structure & grassroots issues it was inevitable, the question is how far will it go? And how will Beijing exploit our division? The two are not mutually exclusive.
Dai Muff
This is a society where racist or derogatory terms for Westerner, Filipino, and Indian are part and parcel of everyday conversation and even heard in our media. You will hear one rude term used a dozen times for every one time someone says "西人". But describe mainlanders after an insect and you will be in BIG trouble. Protected species indeed. .
lbsaw
What is the definition of "race"? People from Mainland China and that from Hongkong are Chinese. Everyone is part of China. Their upbringing, social and cultural background may differ but fact is everyone is Chinese. This is not about race discrimination but about discontentment between the ways each group of people perceived. Its similar to the different views of villages or if you take a local comparison, its the differing views of Hongkong people not entitled to any land rights which is only accorded to those descendants of the New Territories.
The use of insulting words or phrases reflects the level of civility but English has a clear definition of words. A **** is an insect and any connotation is merely a play of word. How is freedom of speech allowed if generic words are disallowed. In Cantonese, is it illegal to call westerners as "****", or Indians as "ah cha"? The government should not be impulsive and should identify the root cause of such discontentment and address it instead of creating more laws that are controversial. The mainland Chinese interest in visiting Hongkong will not be perpetual and soon they will realise they can get all they need in China. When they stop coming, it will be ironical to see how Hongkong's economic health will be. There is a good saying - when there's no food on the table, sensibility will prevail.
Dai Muff
It is amazing how virtually no article you print on this mentions the role played by the"loving Hong Kong" goons in ramping up the aggression at that protest. This government (and the EOC) does not currently even enforce its own laws on freedom of religion where they are concerned (watch them bully the Falun Gong in Causeway Bay), so what would be the point of introducing new laws?
daily
This is a big joke..........amending a "race hate" law so Chinese should not "hate" their own.........hahahaahhaahh.................This is certainly a new twist to modern racism.

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