My Take

Talking about core values while ignoring our minorities

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 5:26am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 5:26am

Core values are like mission statements. They are things we would like to think we treasure and practise, something to feel good about ourselves. So business leaders have their core values for Hong Kong like a free market and respect for private property. Pan-democrats prefer other things like the rule of law and a free press. Chinese communists like stability, order, prosperity and harmony. There is an element of self-glorification and self-deception in all these - my core values are superior to yours.

Of course, core values, like mission statements, are not necessarily what we practise or practise well. But is it possible to have a negative core value? If it is, here is a possible candidate that I find quite prevalent at most levels of our society - something we believe in and practise, though not so overtly as before. For lack of a better word, let's call it racism. It is the belief and widespread practice, from government to society to our daily life, that we should ignore, and make invisible, ethnic minorities, and deny them benefits and perks we so readily give to the local Chinese, and more so, to the local and mainland elites, and privileged expatriates.

That's why the Education Bureau is perfectly happy to see the well-respected St Margaret's Girls' College in Mid-Levels, which has a majority of ethnic-minority students, being kicked out by its landlord without a permanent campus to relocate to. That's why we have popular textbooks about racial harmony that do nothing but promote racial stereotypes. One text has pupils matching non-Chinese people with different jobs - Filipinos as maids, a South Asian as a construction worker, and a white guy in a suit as a teacher. Another textbook matches "common physical characteristics" like thin and thick lips, "very dark skin" and "curly hair" to white, black, brown and yellow races. What century are we in - back in early British colonial times?

Meanwhile, the bureau in recent years bent over backwards to help the most famous and expensive international schools to expand, with temporary sites and permanent homes. Even the more recent Nord Anglia school in Lam Tin gets tax breaks and free land, though its mother company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. So much for their non-profit, charity status!