A decision on whether to outlaw racial discrimination will be made early next year, lawmakers were told yesterday.
Secretary for Home Affairs Lam Woon-kwong said consultations on racial bias would be concluded by the end of the year.
He said the Government was open-minded about the legislation but stressed: 'Our considered view, following extensive research and public consultation - has been that a combination of administrative measures and public education offers the better way forward.'
Mr Lam said ethnic minority groups and the community would be consulted on the need for an anti-racial discrimination law. 'We will have in-depth conversations with them rather than simply asking their opinion on whether to support the law or not,' he said.
Mr Lam said that in 1997 the Government ruled out enacting an anti-racial discrimination law because of the lack of general support.
His comments were made in reply to non-affiliated legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, who raised the question.
Ms Ng, who represents the legal sector, said the Government had an obligation under international human rights treaties to eradicate racial discrimination. She said the experience of legislation against sex, disability and family status discrimination showed that it helped raise public awareness.
Mr Lam said seeking the community's overwhelming support was important as the Government did not want to see social harmony jeopardised by the legislation.