Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced a series of “people-oriented” initiatives to “secure public support for the government” in her maiden policy address delivered on Wednesday.
They include providing air-conditioning grants for public schools, assisting patients with uncommon disorders by providing subsidies for drug treatments, raising the monthly payment for low-income working families, and increasing the statutory paternity leave from three days to five days, among others.
A special needs trust will also be set up for the parents of children with disabilities to ensure their offspring receive proper care after their deaths. The number of internship placements for students with disabilities in government departments are also set to double from 50 to 100.
Furthermore, Lam said that the Chinese proficiency requirement for civil service will be reviewed in order to increase government job opportunities for ethnic minorities.
Prior to the policy address, ethnic minority residents and groups in Hong Kong made submissions to the government, collecting over 399 signatures from the public.
Expressing disappointment in the previous government’s “lack of genuine and comprehensive efforts,” they urged the government to address the inequalities faced by ethnic minorities in the local education system and put in place a proper Chinese curriculum. “Education is the key to eliminating discrimination,” they said.
They also said that the Race Discrimination Ordinance “needs to be changed to better protect ethnic minorities from discrimination and unfair treatment,” adding, “This will be a major step for Hong Kong, a world class city, to adhere to international standards.”
Lam said during her policy address that the government aims to submit proposals to amend the Race Discrimination Ordinance to the Legislative Council during the 2017‑18 LegCo session.
She also said that the Education Bureau has been observing the implementation of the curriculum for learning Chinese as a second language, and that views of ethnic minority parents and relevant organisations “will also be taken into consideration.”
Equal Opportunities Commission Alfred Chan said in response to the policy address, “The EOC is encouraged to learn about the Government’s affirmative response to some of the recommendations submitted last year by the EOC under the Discrimination Law Review, and that a clear timeline has been set for the legal reform.”
“However, we hope that the Government will seriously consider and speed up the processing of other priority recommendations by the EOC as well, such as the introduction of a duty to provide reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities across multiple domains. Such reforms are essential, without which it will be difficult to eliminate systemic discrimination and promote equal opportunities for the protected individuals.”