January 11, 2006

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Law and disorder

A compare and contrast exercise.

The Standard reports Differing wage scales will be legal:

Paying foreign workers more than local employees for essentially the same job will not be a crime under Hong Kong's proposed race discrimination laws, an official said Tuesday.
Meanwhile the unlinkable SCMP screams Race law to put tough curbs on expat deals:
Hong Kong companies will have to justify their offers of generous "expat packages" to foreign employees under an anti-racism bill now in an "advanced stage of drafting". They will have to prove the recruit has expertise not readily available in Hong Kong, and permanent residents will not be able to receive such special terms...

Mr Fisher also said the bill would make harassment and racial vilification an offence, but would not necessarily cover racist "name-calling" unless it was done in the context of the "protected areas" of employment, education, provision of goods and services, public bodies, barristers and clubs.

Same facts, very different angles. Hong Kong's proposed racial discrimination laws are close to useless. Racist abuse is dependant on where it happens, not what is said. The law will not cover mainland Chinese, which in itself is disciminatory. Furthermore it won't do anything to change the other institutional racial barriers. For example, domestic helpers can never qualify for permanent residency, while others here on employment visas can qualify after 7 years. Many here look at domestic helpers (mostly Filipinas, Indonesians, Thais and Sri Lankans) as serfs or even sub-human. If you're going to outlaw racial discrimination, either do it properly or don't do it at all.

While on Hong Kong law, our favourite rabble of 14 protesters are due in Kwun Tong magistracy today. A litany of minor Korean politicians, Hong Kong trade unionists and other odd-balls continue their efforts to subvert the rule of law by staging hunger strikes and threatening travel boycotts. Thankfully the government's attitude remains the right one - these protesters will be tried by a court of law, not a court of media and public opinion. There has not been one legitimate arguement for dropping the charges. These protesters are getting a first hand lesson in what rule of law really means. Getting others to rant and rave on your behalf doesn't get you off, sunshine. The NYT is calling the situation diplomatically sticky. Somehow I don't see relations between South Koera, Hong Kong and China being affected by this.

Economic world beater Hong Kong has only 10% of its population paying income tax while more than half its population live in government housing. As one of the 10% paying tax, it's good to know my tax dollars will be going to putting these people in jail if they are found guilty. It should prevent some of the dollars being wasted on empty exhibition halls (AsiaWorld Expo at the airport), West Kowloon, Kai Tak, Tamar...

By the way, who is paying defendant lawyer and democrat Martin Lee's fees? Protesting ain't cheap.

posted by Simon on 01.11.06 at 08:59 AM in the Hong Kong category.


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