My Take

A continental breakfast behind bars in Hong Kong jails

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 August, 2015, 1:51am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 August, 2015, 8:27am

The League of Social Democrats (LSD) is fighting hard for gender and racial equalities - in our jails.

Last year, LSD co-founder and lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung sued the Correctional Services Department for making him cut his signature locks. His argument was that women prisoners could keep their hair long, so why couldn't he?

Hummm, it sounds like vexatious litigation to me.

But his LSD sidekick Derek Chan Tak-cheung may have a better argument about racial discrimination in terms of the different food being served to prisoners based on their race.

Chan has just been released after serving three weeks in jail for throwing an egg at the financial secretary. In prison, he found that ethnic Chinese are served Chinese food, in smaller portions and with fewer varieties than Western meals given to non-Chinese. He has launched a case against the department at the High Court, arguing the practice of serving different meals to different prisoners on the basis of their race is unlawful and unconstitutional.

According to Chan, the Chinese breakfast includes rice with a little meat, while the Western meal has cheese, jam, butter, toast and milk tea. The Chinese lunch offers congee with beans, Chinese tea and a piece of bread, while the Western one consists of a hamburger, vegetables, a boiled egg, toast, potatoes and milk tea.

For dinner, the Chinese meal options are vegetables and meat, fried fish with bones or chicken wings, while the Western options include a hamburger, pork, boneless fried fish steak, fried chicken wings, potatoes, baked beans in tomato sauce, bread, butter and jam, and milk tea.

I don't know about you but the Western meals sound definitely tastier, especially the breakfast, which is like a continental breakfast served at hotels. The only things missing are a croissant and a scone.

Chan argues the different meals served amount to a breach of the race discrimination law and the Basic Law.

Instead of fighting Chan and his lawyers in court, the department should really review its food policy. Here's an easy way to make everyone happy at very little cost. Give every prisoner a choice between having a Chinese and a Western meal.