Media Statement by Mr. LAM Woon Kwong, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission
Concerning the controversy on my dual role as ExCo Convener and Chairperson of EOC, I have listened closely to the community in the past week, including from EOC’s working partners and in particular from EOC Members last night. I have now come to the following views and conclusion:
1. The majority of EOC Members, including a considerable number of our partner organizations, support me to continue to serve in my dual role. They see the role of Non-official Members of ExCo as advisory, bearing no executive authorities. They also understand that Non-official Members do not serve under the Executive Branch of the HKSAR Government. Hence, the chance of real role conflict is minimal. Even if such conflict situation should arise, they also see that there are sufficient mechanisms both in ExCo and in EOC to tackle it.
2. On the other hand, a handful of EOC Members and a number of human rights groups and service groups strongly object to the dual role. They consider it against the “Paris Principle” on human rights, that it erodes public confidence on the independence of EOC, and that it sets a poor precedence for EOC.
3. Even among those EOC Members in support of the dual role arrangement, there is a clear view that while they support it on balance as of now, they consider that it is less than ideal since there could be public confusion over the two roles and over time there is indeed a risk of weakening EOC’s perceived image of independence.
4. Hence, I have come to the following decision:
- ExCo convenership is a serious appointment. It would be irresponsible of me to walk away from the job when there is no real case of role conflict.
- Similarly, Chair of the EOC is also a serious appointment to which I have pledged my full three years’ service. Given that the job carries statutory duties and is designated by law, there is no acting arrangement to cover the gap should I resign immediately. It would bring serious disruption to EOC’s work.
- I have therefore decided that I should carry on with both jobs, and with it the dual role, for the remaining term of my current contract which ends in end of January next year. I will inform the SAR Government that I will not consider any offer to renew my contract, and I will also urge the Government to start the selection process for the next Chairperson as soon as possible.
- For the next 6 months, I will continue to carry out my duties as Chairperson of EOC dutifully and diligently, and be vigilant to avoid any real or perceived conflicts in serving my dual role.
5. I hope the controversy surrounding my dual role will be minimized from today. Thank you.
11 July 2012