When Lam Woon-kwong took over as head of the Equal Opportunities Commission in February, there were some reasons for disquiet. The statutory body is in effect Hong Kong's upholder of human rights and, as such, has to have the utmost independence. Yet the person chosen to be its chairman had been a career civil servant who had held several top-level positions in the government. Thankfully, since taking office Lam has shown he is not afraid to criticise his former bosses. Lam could not be more closely linked to the government. He served as director of the Chief Executive's Office, education chief, secretary for home affairs and civil service chief. He and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen are on the best of terms. Lam's lack of a legal or human rights background did not seem to fit well with his new role. Despite the questions raised, he has done much to prove his critics wrong. He pledged in this newspaper that he would 'be a defender and advocate of human rights and equal opportunities'. We are used to the government making promises and then doing little about them, so a former official coming out with such a statement might well have offered little cause for optimism. What gives reason to believe otherwise is his criticism of the Race Discrimination Ordinance. The law is flawed. Weak enforcement and too many exemptions, most damagingly the police and bureaucracy, limit its worth. Lam tellingly pointed this out last week, calling the government morally wrong for insisting on the exclusions when framing the law in 2008. He said authorities had a duty through legislation to promote equality and should open themselves to monitoring by the commission. This is precisely what we expect and need to hear from the head of a human rights organisation. Lam needs to ensure that all people in our city are treated equally, no matter what their circumstances. He has to continue to carry out his duties without fear or favour. There should be no exemptions.