Opening Ceremony of the Equal Opportunity Festival University of Hong Kong
Organised by University of Hong Kong
Opening Remarks by Mr Raymond Tang, Chairperson, Equal Opportunities Committee（只备英文版）
It gives me great pleasure to be here at the opening ceremony of the Equal Opportunity Festival that aims to raise awareness on discrimination issues and promote equal opportunities, which is a vision also shared by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). I highly appreciate the equal opportunity initiatives of the University of Hong Kong and consider it an honour to be a part of this festival for the third consecutive year.
The University of Hong Kong has always shown its commitment to equal opportunities by creating, promoting, and maintaining an environment that is free of harassment and discrimination. The University’s pledge to take necessary actions to prevent and eliminate behaviour which violate the University’s equal opportunities policy is noteworthy. The University’s continuous effort to improve the physical accessibility in its campus and the formulation of specific policies to help persons with a disability in securing admission and employment at the University is also highly commendable. I hope the University will continue with its efforts to promote equal opportunities values, culture and environment.
The EOC is a statutory body, which was established in 1996, to implement the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), and the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO). It has been entrusted recently with the responsibility of administering the newly enacted Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) once it becomes effective. The RDO went through extensive and intensive consultations with all stakeholders and was passed by the Legco in July 2008.
We are currently in the process of finalizing the Code of Practice (CoP) on Employment under the RDO. The CoP explains how the RDO protects people from racial discrimination in employment-related matters. The EOC organized extensive consultation, altogether 55 sessions, with the public and relevant stakeholders from October 2008 to January 2009 to seek feedback on the draft. It is now in the final stages of preparation.
According to the 2006 census, ethnic minorities constitute 5% of Hong Kong’s population. Unfamiliarity of each other’s customs, culture and language has led to various prejudices and stereotypes between the Chinese community and the ethnic minorities. Various studies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working for the ethnic minorities have pointed out that ethnic minorities in Hong Kong feel discriminated on the ground of race and believe to have lost out on education and career opportunities, mainly due to language constraint.
Discrimination and harassment on the ground of race could happen intentionally or unintentionally. If what we say or do without ill intention makes the other person feel discriminated, harassed, or intimidated on the ground of race, then it could still constitute racial discrimination. The RDO makes it unlawful to discriminate against, harass, or vilify a person on the basis of his/her or his/her relative’s race. The EOC is committed to educating the general public about the legislation and raise awareness among the ethnic minorities on their rights and responsibilities under the law. However, legislation alone cannot bring about racial harmony. It can be achieved through attitudinal and behavioural change, which can only be achieved through the understanding and respect of each other’s cultures and traditions.
Hong Kong is a multicultural society. Let us all cherish this ethnic and cultural diversity and help Hong Kong flourish into a harmonious and inclusive society.
Thank you all for supporting this event. I wish the festival every success.
1 Of the total ethnic minorities, Filipinos constitute 32%, Indonesians 26%, whites 11%, Indians 6%, Nepalese 5%, Japanese 4%, Thais 3%, Pakistanis 3%, and other Asians 4%.