Chairman of the Elderly Commission and Lingnan University social policy professor Alfred Chan Cheung-ming has been appointed as the next head of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), taking over from incumbent chairman York Chow Yat-ngok starting April 11 for a term of three years.

The government issued an open call for a new EOC chairperson last August, hinting that Chow’s contract would not be renewed. Chow has come under criticism by anti-gay groups for his vocal support of LGBT rights, but LGBT advocacy groups such as Pink Alliance had then expressed “disappointment” at the announcement, commending the EOC for having “dutifully exercised its mandate” under his leadership.

York Chow (left) and Alfred Chan (right). Photo: Stand News.

Chow has previously defended his participation in LGBT events such as Pink Dot, saying that the commission is “empowered to advocate for a society of inclusion and diversity,” adding that they also “need to communicate and pay respect to everybody with different characteristics, and that will include sexual orientations.”

Last month, a study commissioned by the EOC found that more than half of Hongkongers surveyed are in favour of legislation against sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status discrimination, indicating a visible shift in public opinion over the past decade.

The government said that Chan had gone through an open recruitment exercise and was recommended to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying by a selection board.

Gay Pride Hong Kong 2015. Photo: Dan Garrett.

“The selection criteria included knowledge, ideals and passion towards equal opportunities and anti-discrimination, extensive administrative experience and leadership as well as good communication skills and so forth,” a government spokesperson said.

Chan has served as the Elderly Commission Chairman since 2011, and is also a member of the Minimum Wage Commission, the Independent Police Complaints Council and the Health and Medical Development Advisory Committee.

“Professor Chan’s clear vision, passion and commitment in various areas of equal opportunities have been fully evidenced by his work and experience in the social service and tertiary education sectors over the years,” the spokesperson said. “[He] has extensive experience in public service and possesses good leadership, management and communication skills. We are confident that under his leadership, the EOC will continue to actively promote equal opportunities and eliminate discrimination in the community.”

Chow steps down

The government also thanked Chow – whose term ends on March 31 – for his contributions. “During the term of office of Dr Chow, the EOC has continued to effectively implement the four anti-discrimination Ordinances, facilitated the amendment of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance to expand the scope of protection against sexual harassment, and set up the Ethnic Minorities Unit,” the spokesperson said.

York Chow. File Photo: Stand News.

“The EOC has also promoted equal opportunities in the community and raised public awareness of the EOC through various publicity and educational initiatives. In addition, under the leadership of Dr Chow, the EOC’s performance has exceeded its targets, handling efficiently over 10,000 enquiries and over 500 complaints a year.”

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.