New EOC Chairman Maps Out Top Priorities
The new Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), Mr. Michael WONG Kin-Chow, has pledged to work towards achieving wider recognition of equal opportunities as his top priority for the Commission. He has identified a closer co-operation with non-governmental organizations and disadvantaged groups, a comprehensive public education programme and an overall review of the Commission's work as three necessary steps to attain his goal.
At the EOC Reception today (10 October 2003), Mr. WONG said, "The EOC places great value on the relationship with non-governmental organizations and the welfare sector. The special needs of disadvantaged groups in employment, transport, access to facilities, services, new technology and education are of particular concern to us. In order to enhance communications with different groups and organizations, the Commission has begun a programme of regular meetings with them. A new hotline to receive complaints and public views has also been set up to address their needs."
"The Commission is committed to working closely with the disadvantaged groups, in delivering a more professional and diversified service. Just as everyone is equal before the law, every person is equal under the principles of equal opportunities," the Chairman continued.
Mr. WONG stressed the importance of a clear understanding of equal opportunities ordinances among the disadvantaged groups and welfare organizations to better serve their clients. Since September this year, the EOC has jointly organized a series of equal opportunities workshops with the Hong Kong Council of Social Services for non-governmental organizations. Close to 300 organizational representatives stand to benefit from the workshops.
Another major aspect of the EOC's work is public education. "To eliminate discrimination and to promote equal opportunities may mean a change in our cultural and social values. As such, we understand the importance of public education. And in an effort to mainstream equal opportunities in the workplace, we have been providing staff development programmes to those in the public and private sectors." Mr. WONG cited the Commission's first "Equal Opportunities Musical" and other promotional initiatives to raise public awareness and acceptance of equal opportunities values.
Mr. WONG also explained that the EOC was conducting a review of the three ordinances, which included a study of establishing an Equal Opportunities Tribunal. Upon the completion of the review, recommendations to amend the legislation would be made to the Government and the Legislative Council.
In an effort to review the work of the EOC, Mr. WONG announced that the Commission had appointed two EOC Members in their individual capacity to review its organizational structure.
"Apart from reviewing the organizational structure of the EOC in order to enhance a smooth and cost effective operation, it will be important to identify a position for the Commission to formulate its future strategies," said Mr. WONG. "The Members would also study the equal opportunities legislation and its implementation in overseas jurisdictions, including countries in Asia," Mr. WONG added.
In view of the recent economic developments in the Mainland which have forged closer ties with Hong Kong in trade as well as other areas, Mr. WONG believed that closer networking with the Mainland on equal opportunities issues would be mutually beneficial to Hong Kong and the Mainland.
Mr. WONG said, "We can develop exchanges with equivalent bodies in the Mainland such as the All-China Women's Federation and China Disabled Persons' Federation. We shall try to build our relationships with relevant organizations in the Mainland through proactive networking, and to improve our communication and co-operation with these organizations so as to promote wider recognition and achievement in equal opportunities."
Mr. WONG added that the EOC would also maintain close liaison with other equal opportunities organizations overseas to keep abreast of their development.
Mr. WONG pledged that the EOC would serve the community in a fair, sincere and open manner. He stressed the importance of mainstreaming the principle of equal opportunities into everyday life. Finally, he called upon the support of the general public and media to create a better, more harmonious and fair society.
Over 200 representatives of non-governmental organizations and government officials participated in the "Understanding Equal Opportunities" Reception today at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. A new EOC publication, a user-friendly picture book developed for young persons with intellectual disability "Knowing Your Rights" were distributed to guests.
Equal Opportunities Commission
10 October 2003
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