The Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, had a useful exchange of views on the issues of racial equality, immigration appeal system, police monitoring and pace of democracy with members of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM) today (Thursday).
The Chief Executive said that he appreciated the lofty ideals of the HKHRM.
Mr Tung pointed out that the HKSAR Government cared for human rights as much as any human rights organisations.
"Our human rights record was one of the best in the world and we should be justly proud of it," he said. "Of course we can always do better, and we are looking for the most effective ways to improve ourselves."
"We must first believe in our own heart the importance of human rights and human dignity in order to bring the ideals into practice," he stressed. "It is no use to rely on other people telling us what to do if we ourselves do not believe in these ideals."
"It is therefore vitally important for the Government to be fully committed in educating the public the importance of individual rights and the need to respect the rights of others," Mr Tung said. "And this is exactly what we are doing now in promoting racial equality."
"We do not endorse any form of racial discrimination," he said. "We can hold up our head high when compared with the situation in many communities around the world."
"We have done a lot in promoting racial equality, but we are not complacent. We will continue our efforts in educating the public, in particular the younger generation, on the importance of racial equality," he added.
"From my own experience overseas, I believe that persuasion is more effective than legislation in instilling a sense of racial equality amongst the community," Mr Tung said. "We will spare no efforts in looking for effective ways to achieve this goal."
On the immigration appeal system, the Chief Executive assured the members that the various appellate bodies did look at the appeals very carefully and were conscious of the need to expedite the appeal process.
Listening to the members' views on police monitoring, the Chief Executive pointed out that Hong Kong was a free and open society where freedom of expression and assembly were guaranteed by law.
In assessing the conduct of the Police, Mr Tung said that we must take into account the fact that the Police had to work under tremendous pressure and we had a good record of public order and safety in Hong Kong.
"The achievements made by the Police in combating crimes are worthy of our trust and confidence in them," he said. "We do not live in a perfect world. We have to always take a balanced view in judging the performance of the Police, and indeed in any other issues relating to human rights, so that we would not loose sight of the overall interest of the community."
On democratic evolution, the Chief Executive said that Hong Kong should press ahead with the political process in a steady manner in accordance with the Basic Law.
The Chief Executive welcomed exchanges with HKHRM members. "The Government will keep an open mind on the most effective ways to promote human rights. We shall continue to listen to views of the community," he said.
End/Thursday, July 30, 1998