City full of bigotry and discrimination

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 December, 2000, 12:00am

Acting Secretary for Home Affairs, Kwan Wing-wah's letter of November 30 is further evidence that Hong Kong is in a state of extraordinary denial over the extent of racism here.

He asserts that 'racism is not a significant problem here'. What is the evidence? The views of the Hong Kong Chinese? By definition, they do not regard it as a problem because they are the perpetrators, not the victims, of the racism. The great majority of the population does not regard racism as a problem by virtue of the fact that it is Chinese. If the SAR Government is serious about addressing the problem, then it should ask the victims not the perpetrators: those of darker skin, be they Indians, Filipinos, Nepalese and blacks.

For them, the picture is completely different. Hong Kong is an extremely racist society. On a daily basis, these people are subject to discrimination, verbal abuse and offensive behaviour. Racism is everywhere: on the streets, in the shops, even in hospitals, as the recent case of Harinder Veriah served to demonstrate. On television, racial stereotyping and derogatory language are commonplace. When the Hong Kong Chinese go abroad, they quite rightly complain about the racial discrimination they suffer. Yet in their own country, they behave in the same way to those of darker skin, worse indeed, and then deny all knowledge of it. The Acting Secretary for Home Affairs claims that Hong Kong is not as bad as many places. Let me assure him that it is a lot worse than many places, including Britain.

The only reason he and his colleagues can get away with the hypocritical pretence contained in his letter is that the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong are small in number and because whites do not suffer the same treatment.

Hong Kong has no right to claim it is a tolerant, cosmopolitan city, because it is not. It is full of bigotry and discrimination: ask any Indian or Filipino. The sooner the SAR Government faces up to this and introduces laws against racial discrimination, the better.


Happy Valley