Archbishop hits out at 'xenophobic' politicians; says 'learn from Mandela'

Anglican leader also urges patience on 2017 poll and tells Hongkongers to learn from Mandela

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 4:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 3:45pm

Politicians who promote "discrimination, xenophobia and 'Hongkongers first'" go against the spirit of unity preached by Jesus, the Anglican Archbishop of Hong Kong and Macau says in his Christmas message.

Discrimination was one of a number of social and political issues discussed by Dr Paul Kwong in his annual message. He also called on Hongkongers to learn from Nelson Mandela and not be discouraged if arrangements for the 2017 chief executive election, due to be run by universal suffrage, disappointed.

Kwong said some politicians, with their eyes only on votes, incited discrimination with calls "to restrict and reduce the quota of immigrants from the mainland". He was referring to a year of constant tension between mainlanders and Hongkongers. "Such views, which oppose family reunion, are not in line with basic human rights and justice."

He accused the media of "hyping up" a local mother's false claim that her daughter had been kidnapped by a woman with a "mainland" accent. The child had, in fact, died. He said reporting gave "the wrong impression that all criminals were form the mainland".

"The purpose of such labelling is to create conflicts between Hong Kong people and the mainlanders, resulting in alienation and division."

Referring to the consultation on arrangements for the 2017 poll, Kwong said Hongkongers could learn from Mandela's message of "reconciliation, tolerance and unity". A memorial service for the former South African leader took place at Hong Kong's Anglican cathedral last week.

"The method eventually adopted might not be ideal, but we should not be discouraged because no one system or method is perfect the first time," Kwong said. "Hong Kong people should express their views in an open-minded, peaceful, engaging, tolerant, pragmatic and mutually respectful manner."

Kwong said the increasing use of abusive language and gestures at protests was "vulgar and despicable" and was "not acceptable and approved by the majority of our citizens".

Kwong's Christmas messages have often been controversial. In 2011 he condemned Hongkongers' "selfishness", while last year he blamed "improper governance" for social divisions.