Guess the taxpayer's language

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 June, 1998, 12:00am

Recently I received a tax return form from the Inland Revenue Department. Unlike previous years, the instruction booklet was only in one language. In my case, it was Chinese. I feel more comfortable using English so I requested an English booklet.

How do the IRD know what language their taxpayers normally use? Many people with Indian names in Hong Kong go to school within the local system and are competent in Chinese. Koreans have their names written in Chinese script form yet many of them in the SAR do not know the written language.

The argument that having monolingual publication will save paper is not a strong one. The SAR's policy is to develop Hong Kong into a truly bilingual society, with people competent in Chinese and English.

The IRD is not alone. Towngas and Hongkong Electric bills are just other examples.

Let's not go to extremes in brushing off our colonial past at the expense of losing our competitive advantage in the international community as a window to the world for China.