Ronald Chan under fire for saying Hong Kong will focus on only nine out of 73 recommendations by equality watchdog

Lawmakers worry the remainder will be forgotten after constitutional and mainland affairs undersecretary’s remarks

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 7:59pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 March, 2017, 3:15am

Undersecretary for constitutional and mainland affairs Ronald Chan Ngok-pang has come under fire for saying the government would focus on only nine out of 73 recommendations made by the Equal Opportunities Commission on the city’s anti-discrimination ordinances.

During a meeting of the Legislative Council’s panel on constitutional affairs, Chan said the government planned to focus on only nine recommendations first because they are less controversial and less complex.

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“When we try to make amendments to the laws, we need to do so step by step. The recommendations made by the Equal Opportunities Commission touch on a wide range of issues,” he said. Chan did not say when exactly the amendments would be made to the ordinances.

In 2014, the EOC launched a public consultation to study how the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Disability Discrimination Ordinance, Family Status Discrimination Ordinance, and the Race Discrimination Ordinance should be amended to improve equality in Hong Kong.

It received more than 125,000 written submissions. Last year, the watchdog submitted 73 recommendations, of which 27 were considered to be of higher priority, to the government.

Lawmakers including Labour Party’s Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung questioned the government’s reason for choosing only nine recommendations when the EOC had already highlighted 27 to be more important.

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“The government’s stance is shameful ... The EOC has already identified 27 recommendations. I would not allow the government to choose just nine recommendations at the end of its term to give an impression that it has done something,” Cheung said.

Demosisto lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung also wanted to know the criteria behind the government’s selection of the nine recommendations.

Of the nine, one recommended that the government introduce provisions to prohibit direct and indirect discrimination against breastfeeding.