• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 11:29pm
NewsHong Kong
SOCIETY

Should it be illegal to call someone 'locust'? Protection for mainlanders dominates law debate

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 5:44am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 8:54am
 

Tensions between Hongkongers and mainland visitors were further exposed yesterday during a fiery debate over proposed changes to anti-discrimination laws. The equal opportunities watchdog was asked whether using the word "locust" to refer to a mainlander would be a punishable offence.

Possible legislation to protect mainlanders and migrants took centre stage as the Equal Opportunities Commission opened its public consultation on the issue.

Although the review covers a broad range of topics - disability, the gender pay gap and benefits for unmarried couples - the biggest concern of more than 100 people at the Central Library yesterday involved the treatment of mainlanders and migrants.

Under current laws mainlanders are not protected against "racial" discrimination, but the commission has suggested expanding the definition.

The suggestion has raised speculation that using insulting words such as "locust" to describe mainlanders could become punishable by law.

"If a Hongkonger shouted 'locust' in the face of a mainlander after seeing him poo, would he be subjected to punishment?" a representative of Local Press, an internet media outlet, asked. "It is a moral right to condemn something wrong."

An organiser of a controversial rally against mainland tourists - which branded itself as "anti-locust" - asked a similar question: "What is a Hong Kong race? Am I discriminating [against] mainlanders? I only want to bring up discussions [about the tourist influx]."

Commission chairman York Chow Yat-ngok said more than 1,000 submissions on the issue had been received. While it was illegal to urinate in public, it was "the behaviour, not the person's background which should be condemned", he said.

The commission's chief legal counsel, Herman Poon Lik-hang, said it was unlikely that shouting abuse on a street would be considered incitement to racial hatred.

The current lack of laws addressing the civic identities of both Hongkongers and mainlanders left both groups unprotected, he said. A recent example was locals complaining about having to pay higher admission fees to the Book Fair than tourists. He said the commission could not take on such cases under current laws.

Another group of about 10 people from Pro Family HK protested against a proposal to widen the definition of marital status to include cohabitation and civil unions - both heterosexual and same sex - for entitlement to employment and health benefits.

Poon said the commission did not have a position on the issue, but had the responsibility to represent minority interests and start public discussions. The consultation is due to end in October.

Share

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

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

 

 
 
 
 
 
59

This article is now closed to comments

comuller
To name or describe fellow human beings as insects is more than discriminatory. It's despicable. History of the human race, up to this very moment, is full of examples how the use of bad words will ultimately lead to doing very bad deeds. Are some Hong Kong people willing to learn from the past? Or are they, in a sense that Mr. Michael Chugani described in this very paper a couple of days ago, living in their own world?
Brendafung888@gmail.com
Instead of arguing the semantics of the name calling why not address the underlying and real issue?? The mainlanders have completely overtaken the streets of Hong Kong. Their behaviour is unbelievably bad and the mainland would be doing everyone a favour to require their people to take behavioural lessons before traveling anywhere. The streets of Hong Kong are completely clogged by rude, smoking, spitting, peeing people pulling their suitcases over your feet. Hong Kong is being ruined by them.
Paradox314
It's clearly discrimination when an identifiable group is labelled negatively. Arguments about whether Mainlanders constitute a racial group are completely missing the point - either through ignorance of discrimination issues or on purpose.
.
And to whoever asked, "If a Hongkonger shouted '****' in the face of a mainlander after seeing him poo, would he be subjected to punishment?" a representative of Local Press, an internet media outlet, asked. "It is a moral right to condemn something wrong."
.
Yes, this would be discrimination. We do not have a right to call others names. We do have a right to clearly identify the offensive behaviour, pointing it out as wrong. Rather than calling a public defecator a name, one should point out instead that pooping on the street is not only offensive to the observor, but that it is against the law. Take photographs and call the police. No need to attack the person.
sipsip1238
So if you call a dog a "dog" should it be made illegal?
They are just words, plenty have been calling westerners **** for years, didn't see them complaining.
hunghingshek
If you are a dog, that should not be illegal. But if you criticize the behaviour of a person but calls the whole group he belongs "dogs", that should be illegal. It is the same thing with a Beijing professor calling Hong Kong people "dogs" just because some extreme words uttered by a few Hong Kong people. Likewise just because some mainlanders are not behaving properly does not warrant anyone to call all mainlanders ****. So do not confuse the issues.
comuller
It starts with words, then you separate them into groups, being herded around, controlled and guided, then you make them wear badges, to be better recognised, then you limit their movement to segregated areas, so they will not insult your refined senses. Somebody, on the way to this, will set up toilets, hotels and restaurants just for this people. You know what follows next? And it all started with words.
BTW: There was a time in Hong Kong's history when Hong Kongers were treated like this. When I came to HKG more than 30 years ago, there were still people alive who experienced it and could tell about it. They also complained, that the British deprived the young people of cultural identity, because Chinese history was not taught in government schools and, when mentioned, badly distorted.
calyth
Complete utter ****.
This is an anti-discrimination law. Even if you throw technicalities around sayign that China is made up of 56 race, the term "****" is discrimination against people from a particular nation, using a particular language, with a particular culture that is different than the people of Hong Kong.
Outside of that, there's a strong discrimination still for LGBT in Hong Kong. People see it as something like a "disease", something that should be "corrected".
Some world city.
comuller
The majority of Hong Kong people are of Chinese origin. Some of them should be aware: If you point with one finger at something/ somebody you consider to be objectionable, be aware that three fingers are pointing back at you, at the same time.
woteva6891@hotmail.com
What's wrong with calling Mainlanders ****s?
They eat dogs, cats and everything and they have polluted their country to such an extent they can't even see the sun...
If they don't like being called ****s fine we'll just make up a new name for them...big deal...
F Face isn't discriminatory is it? Bulletproof glasses, strolling luggage across the city and yeah the army hair cut lmao
kongshan2047
The law in HK does not seem to be catching up with other countries. In the UK for example, court had ruled that it is possible for an Englishman to discriminate against a Scotsman despite both being part of the UK. It takes into account of historical factors and cultural origin and acknowledges that England and Scotland used to be separate country, where a similar analogy can also be drawn between HK and mainland China. Likewise, in Australia, it is also unlawful to discriminate someone based on the person's place of birth and origin.

Pages

Login

SCMP.com Account

or