In response to media enquiries on the Race Discrimination Ordinance, a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau today (July 10) said the following:
"We intend to gazette the Race Discrimination Ordinance on July 18, 2008. Our plan to implement the Ordinance remains unchanged.
"It has always been our plan to implement the Ordinance in phases. As a first step, the sections relevant to empowering the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) to exercise its functions under the Ordinance will be brought into force first.
"Thereafter, it would be for the EOC to prepare the relevant code of practice to provide guidance for eliminating discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity.
"This will be a consultative and interactive process with Government organisations, the private sector and the wider community. The code will also be laid on the table of the Legislative Council (LegCo) and is subject to amendment by LegCo.
"After the initial phase of preparing the code, at a time when the community has been more fully informed of the various provisions, other sections of the Ordinance will be brought into force.
"The Administration plans to work closely with the EOC in mapping out the implementation plan for bringing into force the Ordinance.
"Separately, the Administration would initiate action on establishing the four regional support service centres to provide interpretation service to facilitate the access to public services by ethnic minorities and to organise language classes and other programmes to facilitate their integration into the community.
"The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau will also coordinate with relevant policy bureaux and departments to commence our work on compilation of administrative guidelines to promote equal opportunity for ethnic minorities and on the implementation of the guidelines.
"It is our intention that the three tracks of action will be coordinated in bringing the Ordinance into effect.
"We plan to bring into effect the relevant sections which empower the EOC within three months. Thereafter, we expect that the relevant sections that will be applied to Government organisations and the private sector will come into effect progressively from an early date within one year. This is in line with the practice adopted previously for other anti-discrimination Ordinances.
"We believe that the process of consultation on the code of practice will enable the private sector to gain a fuller understanding of the Ordinance. Those affected will be engaged in the process.
"Whilst the original Clause 58 of the Race Discrimination Bill regarding 'use of language' has not been incorporated as part of the Ordinance, this does not necessarily mean that a particular language is to be used or interpretation service is to be provided in all circumstances. As to whether Government and private sector organisations should use a particular language or provide interpretation service would depend on the proportionality test as set out in Section 4 of the Ordinance.
"It is clearly stated in Sections 20 and 26 that the Ordinance does not require a vocational training institute or an education establishment to modify or make different arrangements on the medium of instruction."
Ends/Thursday, July 10, 2008