Minorities of all stripes must have a voice

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 2:35am

Bravo, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen! For the first time, we have a directly elected lawmaker who is openly gay. That took courage in conservative Hong Kong. Mind you, he didn't run on a gay and lesbian platform, despite the minority becoming increasingly vocal and politically organised; Chan said it was purely "a private matter". This is a lost opportunity to advance a minority agenda in a Legislative Council election year; we desperately need more minorities to speak up.

Chan is a member of People Power which counts among its leaders such professional provocateurs as Albert Chan Wai-yip and Wong Yuk-man. Few acts are more provocative than raising the issue of homosexuality and discrimination.

Pan-democratic circles are dominated by middle-class interests which claim to represent Hong Kong's core values, whatever they are, but which actually ignore minorities. Cyd Ho Sau-lan was the only pan-dem candidate whose platform included representing minority interests. We need new activists to speak up for "non-core" Hong Kong values and minority members of our community, from race, sexual orientation and ideology to religion and animal rights.

Why do ethnic minority students get third-rate education and fewer job opportunities? Why are there no expatriates on Legco and Exco, when even in the old colonial days there were always a few token Chinese members? Why was Paul Zimmerman forced to drop out of the Legco poll when he clearly had substantial support?

Why are there no politicians fighting for the interests of more than 280,000 foreign domestic helpers, only those who acquiesce in their legalised exploitation? Our laws make sure the vast majority of maids can never become permanent residents - and therefore voters - however long they have worked here. Hong Kong will become a democracy like ancient Athens, where servants and slaves had no rights.

Why are our educational and democratic agendas dominated by the Catholic and Anglican churches? Because they have money and land? Taoist, Buddhist and Islamic leaders run schools and welfare services, too. They deserve a voice.

You want democracy? Well, let's have some real democracy.