Hong Kong is an exceptional region: a previous British-ruled colony constituted of a majority of Chinese and now a special administrative region on the Chinese soil practising "One Country, Two System". Despite the transfer of sovereignty, Hong Kong continues to enjoy a relatively competitive economy and stable environment as compared with other regions in East Asia. It was not until recently that that the discussion over protection of minorities rights attracted more public concern within the territory.
So what is it hiding behind the veil of the apparent prosperity in the society? What and who are being ignored by the general public or the "majority" in the society? This article is going to discuss some aspects whether the rights of minorities are being sufficiently protected by the public institutions and the provisions of legislations and conclude with suggestions to secure minority rights in Hong Kong.
When the British took over Hong Kong in 1840s, it brought in the Brigade of Gurkhas. Western investors as well as people from regional countries migrated since then because of the stability in Hong Kong, which eventually developed into a hub where East meets West. Blending incoming ideas from the West into the traditional ideas from China, the product is a society interwoven with peoples of different traditions and beliefs towards a certain issues, for instance, customs, religions and, more controversially, sexual orientation.
Despite the establishment of Legal Aid Department, Equal Opportunities Commission and other social institutions, there exist reported cases of discrimination against the minority groups in work and at school, in public and private sectors, let alone many more unreported. Are the minority being well protected?
3. Performance of the Protection of the Minority
There are different bodies in Hong Kong that are devoted to protecting the rights of the minority groups. International Human Rights Regimes and Basic Law list out what rights are to be protected; other local Legislations deliver obligations of people not to discriminate against others; public and social institutions take a more active role in making Hong Kong a city which do not tolerate discrimination.
1. International Human Rights Regime
Different Human Rights Regimes such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ("ICCPR"), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ("ICESCR") as applied in Hong Kong shall remain in force. Others like the Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ("CEDAW") is also binding on Hong Kong.
1. The ICCPR
The ICCPR guarantees some basic civil and political rights. There are provisions that especially protect the minorities such as ethnic and sexual minorities from being discriminated against.
It recognizes the state's duty to guarantee the rights protected by the ICCPR without distinction of any kind. It guarantees the equality of all persons before the law and equal protection of the law against discrimination on various grounds and the rights enjoyed by minorities shall not be denied.
2. The ICESCR
The ICESCR recognizes economic, social and cultural rights enjoyed by every human beings. For instance it guarantees the rights of everyone to education, so discrimination on grounds like race nor sex on admission policy of schools is to be prohibited.
3. The CEDAW
The CEDAW promotes equality between men and women. The Government of Hong Kong submitted periodic reports under CEDAW to detail the protective measures to women in Hong Kong. A Women's Commission is also set up to deal with interest of women in society.
The society has quite successfully observe these international treaties and by enforcing these provisions in the treaties, Hong Kong fulfils its duty as required by the treaties to...