Racism intolerable in any circumstances

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 April, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 April, 1996, 12:00am

The arguments raised by K C Yuen (South China Morning Post, March 26) to counter criticism of racism in Hong Kong are as tenuous - and reek of ulterior motives - as the statements he challenged.

He understandably rails against the racism that local people have suffered during 150 years of colonialism. But because of this he finds racism among local people here acceptable. Indeed, his remarks about Indians in Hong Kong smack of racism.

Racism is odious and unacceptable wherever it occurs, and no matter who it is directed at. It is a vice without frontiers and K C Yuen is being dishonest in his failure to recognise this.

Citizens in most sovereign countries tolerate endless streams of vitriol because they recognise the basic right of people to freedom of speech. I entirely disagree with K C Yuen's arguments but I would defend to the limits of my capability his right to express them publicly.

I suspect that Filipinos in Hong Kong work in the lowest-class jobs because locals consider these jobs beneath them. This is a common experience for poor immigrants in many countries.

K C Yuen's comment that Hong Kong society is fairer because it is based on money and success, rather than birth, is breathtakingly naive. If what he said was true there would be no need for the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Will those Hong Kong citizens who become stateless after the change of sovereignty - because of nationality policies of both the British and Chinese governments - think it is fair? If K C Yuen looked beyond his own nose he would know that human rights activists campaign against violations in many countries.

In the latest Amnesty International annual report, he can find many examples of protests against human rights violations in the countries he mentions in his letter. How many letters has he sent to the Colombian president condemning the murder, by law enforcement officers, of children who sleep on the street? PATRICK CALLAGHAN Yau Yat Chuen