The government remained non-committal yesterday about a proposal to add a clause to the Race Discrimination Bill that would create a statutory duty to promote racial equality. The administration's seeming hesitation led lawmakers to question its dedication to eliminating racial discrimination. Independent pan-democrat Anson Chan Fang On-sang said the government should already be taking steps to promote racial equality, and that taking on a legal duty to do so would merely be a show of sincerity. 'So what's the problem?' she asked. The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau had been asked to consider an Equal Opportunities Commission proposal to include in the bill a general duty to promote racial equality and assess the impact of policies on ethnic minorities. Under the proposal, the government would be required to draw up a racial equality scheme, collect data on ethnic minorities and come up with measures to remedy any adverse effects caused by policies. Lawmakers who had previously criticised the bill for its many exemptions said adopting the EOC proposal would be to take the 'middle ground' and could effectively ensure the bill's smooth passage. In a bills committee meeting yesterday, Deputy Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Arthur Ho Kin-wah said the adoption of the proposal, which would require the drawing up of a racial equality scheme, would take time and required further public discussion. He also expressed concern over the tight schedule. The bill must be passed before the legislative term ends in July. However, lawmakers said the government would need to insert just three lines of text on the scheme into the bill, adding that the scheme itself could be worked out later. Democratic Party legislator Yeung Sum said: 'If the government continues with this attitude, I will be left with no choice but to report to the party that we should consider voting against this bill. Are you trying to push me down this path?' The administration has already rejected calls to amend the bill so that it would cover all government functions, saying such a move would leave it vulnerable to litigation. The EOC proposal would not enable citizens to sue the government. Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung will be invited to make a clear commitment to the proposal at a bills committee meeting on June 3.