Watchdog to study landlord racism

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 12:00am

The government's Race Relations Unit has taken up the issue of racism by landlords after the experience of an Indian investment banker from New York was highlighted in the South China Morning Post last week.

Amit, 25, who asked not to give his full name, last week told the Post how a Mid-Levels landlord refused to let him view a flat less than a week after he relocated to Hong Kong because he did not want an Indian tenant.

Amit's property agent said most Mid-Levels landlords had the same view because of 'smelly cooking' and 'the cloth on the head', referring to the turbans many in the Sikh community wear.

Another Indian, a chief technology officer at a garment company, wrote to the Post after reading the article.

He said he had moved home twice in his seven years in the territory and both times Tseung Kwan O landlords and property agents declined his business because of his race. 'Don't they see that a substantial population staying in the upmarket areas are well-to-do Indians, most of whom run businesses employing Chinese?' he said. 'I wonder what would happen if these Indians became racists and did not allow Chinese to work in their organisations.'

The Home Affairs Bureau unit has contacted Amit and the chief technology officer and plans to liaise with property agents and obtain the assistance of the Estate Agents' Authority on the issue.

Members from Hong Kong Against Race Discrimination, a non-governmental organisation campaigning for a law against racism, also plan to take up the issue.