District councils' failure to provide bilingual documents is discrimination

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am


I refer to the report ('District council is urged to use more English', July 1).

Yau Tsim Mong district councillor Chan Wai-keung talked about the 'paucity of English translation' of council 'meeting documents'.

As a Sai Ying Pun resident, I wrote to the chairman of the Central & Western District Council in May about documents on its website which are not bilingual and as I could not read Chinese I was unable to understand any of the minutes of its meetings.

This matter came to my attention when I tried to find out from the district council's website about a new escalator that is being constructed at Centre Street. However, to my surprise I could only read the agendas, as these were written in English, but not the minutes, as they were all in Chinese. I have also reviewed the websites of other district councils and many appear only to display documents in Chinese, with the exception of Southern District Council, which has documents in a bilingual format.

In its reply to me, Central & Western District Council said that as it had 'limited resources' it could not produce bilingual documents.

It said if I wanted any information from the minutes written in Chinese, I would need to contact the council and specify the individual sections I wanted translated, so it could arrange for this to be done. Clearly, this is both unsatisfactory, inappropriate and more importantly discriminatory.

The notion of having to request individual parts of documents requiring translation from Chinese to English each time anyone wants to read information is also outrageous, and in terms of cost effectiveness it will obviously use even more resources.

I have since made further inquiries and understand that I should direct my concerns to the Home Affairs Bureau. Therefore, my questions to Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang tak-sing are:

Why aren't bilingual documents and other documentation made available on all district council websites? and

If some district councils have 'limited resources' preventing them from providing bilingual documents in Chinese and English, how is it that Southern District Council has the resources to provide such documents, but not Central & Western and many other district councils?

James Thorburn, Sai Ying Pun