Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

EOC Takes Proactive Actions in the Kowloon Bay Health Centre Incident


The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has vigorously pursued complaints on the Kowloon Bay Health Centre incident after a series of intensive investigations in the vicinity.

"The EOC has commenced investigation into the unlawful acts of discrimination, harassment and vilification by some residents of Richland Gardens. We will take legal action where appropriate." said Ms. Anna WU, the EOC Chairperson, at a case conference convened by a group of legislators today (4 October 1999) to discuss matters relating to the Centre.

Since early September 1999, the EOC has set up a task force to visit the Centre and investigate the situation. The provisions of the anti-discrimination legislation and the procedures in lodging complaints were explained to staff and users of the Centre. Six complaints have been lodged with the EOC. Three written formal complaints alleged unlawful acts of discrimination, harassment and vilification. The other three formal complaints were lodged with the EOC in July 1999 and they were related to non-removal of banners from the government land.

The EOC is concerned that police actions regarding incidents in which some Richland Gardens residents have refused access by staff of the Centre through Richland Gardens may be premised on the assumption that staff and users of the Centre are trespassing when they enter the precincts of Richland Gardens.

The EOC is of the view that there was an implied licence that members of the public would have access to certain community facilities in Richland Gardens.

In addition, Ms. WU stated "In so far as the right of the public to walk through Richland Gardens between Kai Yan Street and Wang Chiu Road is concerned, it is by no means clear that the public may be denied such right of way."

In the Legco case conference, the EOC has urged the Government to clarify the public's legal right of access through Richland Gardens.

The EOC has also taken up with the Government the need for additional legal powers to enable it to bring legal proceedings in its own name and on its own initiative.

In the course of collecting information for its case study on the incidents, the EOC noted the fear that people with certain highly stigmatized disabilities have in disclosing their identities.

"It has become apparent that the existing legislation is inadequate to protect the rights of individuals who have been subjected to disability discrimination, harassment or vilification," Ms. WU said. "The EOC should be empowered to bring legal proceedings by itself without the requirement of having a complainant," she added.

According to Ms. WU, both the Home Affairs Bureau and the Commissioner for Rehabilitation have indicated willingness to accord the EOC's proposal for legislative amendments priority consideration.

Concurrently, the EOC is conducting a case study relating to the Kowloon Bay Health Centre. Mr. Frederick TONG, Director (Disability) of the EOC, anticipated that the study report will address issues such as the planning of ancillary and support facilities for the Centre, the need for public education and the need for clear demarcation of responsibilities of government departments as well as their coordination in handling various incidents. The study report is expected to be released in mid-November 1999.

Enquiry: EOC Hotline 25118211