The EOC Organizes Public Forum to Enhance Transparency and Accountability
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) organized a Public Forum today (29 September 2012) to enhance its transparency and accountability.
“Over the years, the work of the EOC has evolved to reflect the changing needs of our community. We hope to strengthen the liaison with our stakeholders and continuously improve our operation and services,” said Mr. LAM Woon-kwong, Chairperson of the EOC, at the Forum.
The Forum also aimed to obtain views from stakeholders to better steer the Commission’s work. At the Forum, the Commission’s past performance and new initiatives were presented.
Ms. Susanna CHIU, Convenor of the Administration and Finance Committee, explained that the EOC abides by the prudent principle in its financial management, which emphasizes economy, efficiency and effectiveness. She stressed that the EOC attaches great importance to good corporate governance, accountability and transparency in its operations, to ensure sustainability in the development of the EOC.
Mr. LEE Luen-fai, Convenor of the Legal and Complaints Committee, introduced the EOC’s work of complaints handling and legal assistance. The ‘fast-track handling’ mechanism, implemented since 2011, was a measure to address the public’s wish to process anti-discrimination complaints as speedily as possible. The new mechanism has shortened the average handling time and enhanced the successful conciliation rate to 88%.
Around 70% of the complaints received by the EOC during 2011/12 were employment-related. For workplace disability discrimination cases, most were on sick leave and work injuries. Under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment continued to be the major causes for employment-related allegations of discriminatory treatment.
Mr. LEE pointed out that through conciliation and legal settlement, the EOC secured about $2.8 million of monetary compensation for its complainants in 2011/12. Other remedies included the provision of access facilities, apologies and change of policies.
Dr. TSE Wing-ling, Convenor of the Policy and Research Committee, referred to the two Working Groups set up to advocate for “barrier-free access” in Hong Kong and equal education opportunities for ethnic minority (EM) students. The Working Group on Access followed up on the EOC's recommendations in its Formal Investigation Report. Dr. Tse said that he was heartened to see that the Government allocated HK$1.3 billion for improvement measures in response to the Report. Consequently, 90% of the 3,500 improvement projects on Government premises had been completed by June 2012. Separately, the Link had commenced its HK$200 million programme to improve facilities in 160 sites.
Dr. TSE also introduced the EOC’s new pilot scheme to empower the parents of EM kindergarten students to help their children to learn and adapt in school. It is hoped that with the positive experience and feedback from more and more kindergartens, the service could be extended and formalized in the foreseeable future. Dr. TSE reiterated his call for the Education Bureau to adopt a more supportive and integrative language policy so as to improve education opportunities for EM students.
Ms. Garling WONG Ka-ling, Convenor of the Community Participation and Publicity Committee, said that the EOC will further strengthen its public education. Making use of the popularity of the Internet, the EOC has launched a variety of on-line programmes. In promoting equal opportunity practices in the workplace, the EOC provides training and tailor-made workshops for both public and private organizations, and has set up an information-sharing platform for human resources practitioners through the EO Club. The EOC also organizes public education programmes targeting school children, youths and ethnic minorities.
In conclusion, Mr. LAM said, “Equal opportunity realizes the important principle of meritocracy and ensures progress and achievement for the entire society. We look forward to continuing the rewarding collaboration with our stakeholders as we work towards a fairer and better community.”
The Forum drew the attendance of more than 130 stakeholders from concerned groups, public organizations, NGOs, political parties and councilors who expressed their opinions on the work of eliminating discrimination and promoting equal opportunities in Hong Kong.
For media enquiries, please contact Ms. Mariana LAW at 2106-2226.
Equal Opportunities Commission
29 September 2012