• Tue
  • Jul 29, 2014
  • Updated: 2:23am
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


More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

What planet are you from? Uranus? Sounds to me like this comment is straight from ur a_n_u_s. In case you're new to Hong Kong, this city has been a Chinese territory for nearly 17 years.
And I suppose if I feel people from your country is infringing on my interest, Hong Kong should heavily tax you and your countrymen, too? Try not to be a problem, if you cannot come up with a solution.
Dai Muff
It is a solution. A sales tax on ALL would distribute the tax burden more equitably. We are paying tax for facilities people who pay ZERO tax are using.
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.
Absolutely twisted logic. Blaming the mainlanders for everything is disgraceful and there is no justification for racist behavior. Hk is going down the drain exactly bc of this behavior. No wonder all my expat colleagues are leaving, hk people are getting so twisted with their perspectives. Worst of all, hk people are known for being rude or cold, yet, they have the cheek to look down on mainland people. Singapore will be laughing because hk is **** itself big time.
Good, go ahead and put "dislikes". Nothing is going to change the fact that you are rude and have a distorted sense of reality. None of civilized people in the world agree with this behavior and stop trying to think that you deserve the sympathy because of your plight. Just because you have some reasons for losing your temper doesn't justify you being rude, wake up or all the intellectuals and elites will leave hk.
Precisely... With all what's been happening in HK and on the mainland, the city's irrelevance lies in the not-so-distant future. The best part is that 90% of these fools don't even see it's coming.
People are either dreaming or this forum has been swamped by other political forces who wants to divide this society. Either way, hk is gone, no help from china economically is going to prevent his fall unless he wakes up and has some sense of reality. Really wondering now if he's golden year in the 80s is just due to luck. People are so immature.
it is perhaps more than the social ettiquettes. It is the crumbling infrastructure o HK, and the dying attention to education and other ways to upgrade human capital. Overall, there is simply quick erosion of what already exists....with no renewal in sight.
According to many people, HK is simply now a shopping and food destination. That is sad.
Hmmm ... Have you thought it's the tour guide's fault for not saying stand to one side.. These are usually HKers.




SCMP.com Account