Racism in Hong Kong must be exposed wherever it occurs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 12:00am

Your article on racial discrimination in Hong Kong headlined 'Hard luck if you happen to be foreign' (South China Morning Post, March 30), is to be welcomed.

However, the call for the enactment of anti-discrimination legislation is not sufficient in itself. In my own country, Australia, there are a number of laws that ban racial discrimination yet prejudice, xenophobia and discriminatory practices still persist. The Pauline Hanson phenomenon is a case in point.

An important step to combat racism is to expose it wherever it occurs and this is where your article does a great service to the community.

One hopes that Hong Kong Against Racial Discrimination will continue to contribute to this exposure.

Another step is the initiation of awareness training for law enforcement personnel, custodial agents, lawyers, judges, immigration authorities and other public officials, including health professionals.

Whether the responsibility for this rests with the Home Affairs Bureau or elsewhere, adequate funding should be set aside for the process and this type of training should be incorporated in the career paths of all public servants.

More important still is to address prejudice at an early age. Primary school curricula should incorporate courses on the worth and value of different cultures and teachers should facilitate cultural exchanges between their pupils and children from other ethnic origins.

Finally, there is a need to recognise that the injustice of race discrimination is compounded by gender discrimination.

It is not a coincidence that the majority of the cases mentioned in your article concerned women. It is thus important that all initiatives to combat race discrimination should be closely linked to the eradication of discrimination against women in the SAR.


Executive Director

Human Rights Council of Australia