My Take readers share their brushes with racism in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 June, 2015, 12:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 June, 2015, 12:33am

Last week a column I wrote on racism in Hong Kong unexpectedly sparked a fierce debate among many readers. Some of you have generously agreed to share your personal experiences.

An expatriate reader from an Asian country wrote: "Institutionalised racism is indeed a serious problem. My family has always been quite unhappy here because of the many instances of informal racism. We rarely dine out in this city because my Thai wife has had many traumatic experiences at diners and restaurants. She says 'it is because of my dark skin'." He also said his son was bullied in school because of his mixed race.

Many South Asians said they find it difficult to rent apartments and search for jobs because of highly unsubtle discrimination against them. "A few years back, I had [an unpleasant experience] with one of these tutorial centres in Sheung Wan," a reader wrote.

"I remember applying for a position as a TESOL teacher via a jobs website; having the necessary qualifications if not more than what they were looking for and never got a call back.

"At which point my missus wanted me to try a little experiment, in which I would 'anglicise' my name - I am a South Asian by birth but grew up in Hong Kong and she was a Brit - and reapply with the same CV … and see what happens. I got a call back within two hours asking if I was available for an interview."

Someone mentioned his previous boss was from Bangladesh and was at one time house hunting.

"The moment they find out he is from Bangladesh, they told the agent that they did not want a curry eater, and told them that the house was not for rent any more," he wrote. "When the secretary called to find out about the house 'for herself', there was no problem and it became available again."

But everything is relative. An American reader wrote that at least Hong Kong does not have gangland racism such as the type you find in the United States.

"In the major American cities, gangs organised on racial and ethnic lines participate in some of the worst acts of violence against each other," he wrote. "In contrast, I see Indian and Pakistani youths congregating together, and the local Chinese do not even give them a passing glance."