Race bias a hurdle for South Asians

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am


South Asians say they face problems accessing the simplest of services, such as banking, and feel racial discrimination remains commonplace on the streets, a study found.

The general consensus among Chinese and South Asian participants in the study is that racial ties have improved in the past 10 years.

But many South Asians still found problems when opening bank accounts or obtaining credit cards. When they tried to rent flats or offices, they were discouraged by property agents who said Chinese owners might not like South Asian tenants.

'South Asian culture is very non-confrontational, so they usually swallow and accept whatever unequal treatment they get,' said Lam Woon-kwong, chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, which commissioned the study. Lam said the commission had received 140 complaints since the Race Discrimination Ordinance was enacted in July 2009.

The study, from December 2010 to April last year, involved 107 Chinese and South Asians taking part in small-group discussions. Major problems they cited included getting a job and learning to read and write Chinese.

Most said they considered themselves part of the local community, while the Chinese also saw them as part of Hong Kong society.

Lam said the government should lead the way in breaking stereotypes and employing more South Asians.

A spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said the government had promoted racial equality and integration of ethnic minorities into mainstream society over the years. It would study the commission's findings.