Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

Equal Opportunities Commission Releases the Report on the Case Study of Kowloon Bay Health Centre


The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (25 November 1999) released its report on the case study of the Kowloon Bay Health Centre (KBHC) after a series of intensive inquiries conducted since early September 1999.

In releasing the report, Ms. Anna WU, the EOC Chairperson said, "The EOC has relied on its staff to directly collect evidence and to conduct a survey. In addition to surveillance, sporadic checks and conducting the survey, the EOC staff interviewed a total of 157 staff and users of the Centre to obtain first-hand accounts of the acts complained of in the KBHC case."

Ms. WU said that as a result of these efforts, a total of 10 complaints had been received by the EOC. "The EOC has formally commenced its complaints handling procedure. While the details of these complaints cannot be disclosed, we will publish periodic progress reports."

On the issue of right of access to facilities in Richland Gardens (RG) by the Centre staff and users, the EOC is of the view there was an implied invitation that any member of the public might enter RG to visit the facilities, such as shops, restaurants, and the like. According to the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), it is unlawful if only, or predominately, persons connected with the KBHC are stopped from entering RG to use these facilities.

Under the DDO, it is also unlawful if only, or predominately, persons connected with the KBHC are stopped from using the path which cuts through RG as a shortcut, without using the facilities.

Ms. WU pointed out that the lack of legal and planning certainty regarding public access through RG was a source of friction. "The Government should adopt community integration as the planning policy in respect of the establishment of this type of centre and maximum utilization should be made of the community facilities and infrastructure in the neighbourhood." Ms. WU emphasized.

The EOC considered that the District Office (DO) concerned should play a pivotal role in co-ordinating district affairs and garnering support from the local community.

It was found that the DO (Kwun Tong) had been unable to draw out the views of some or part of the RG residents who supported the KBHC. It had also failed to take the lead and co-ordinate the effort of removal of banners by the USD and the dismantling of the 'Command Post' requested by the Lands Department. There was also no reason why the DO (Kwun Tong) should not have attempted to improve transportation for the KBHC staff and users as an interim relief.

On the request of the KBHC staff and users, the EOC had liaised directly with the Transport Department and the Kowloon Motor Bus ("KMB") to provide additional bus stop closer to the KBHC. KMB had agreed in principle to re-route three of its bus services subject to the approval and consultation required.

The Transport Department had already arranged with the minibus operators to provide an additional stop right outside the KBHC and the service commenced on 7 November 1999.

In the course of the case study, the EOC has found that the fear of public identification on the part of victims of discrimination seriously inhibited aggrieved persons from lodging complaints with the EOC.

"The EOC should be given the power to seek declaratory and/or injunctive relief in its own name, in respect of all unlawful acts and unlawful conduct under the anti-discrimination laws, as well as in respect of discriminatory policies and practices." Ms. WU said.

Having noted that persons with disabilities are vulnerable when it comes to public disclosure of their disabilities, the EOC suggests that the courts should exercise their discretion and order that the names of such persons, particularly persons with HIV or AIDS, should not be disclosed in court actions or reported in the media.

The EOC announced its decision to conduct a case study in respect of the KBHC in mid-September 1999 and the report took nine weeks to complete. The case study Report will be distributed to Government departments, legislators and concern groups.

Enquiry: EOC Hotline 25118211