Hong Kong must show it is home to all races
- Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung has pledged to improve support in education, work and social welfare for members of ethnic minority groups who are often the victims of prejudice
Equality and inclusiveness is not a mere slogan. It represents a core Hong Kong value. That was the message from Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung when he explained in his blog a raft of measures to help members of ethnic minority groups. Admirable as it is, there is still a considerable gap between aspiration and reality.
This is illustrated by a local charity, the Resolve Foundation, which is running a series of videos on YouTube and Facebook to highlight what it calls discrimination encountered by people, and how victims fight back. Titled “Stories of Everyday Racism in Hong Kong”, videos show a Pakistani being denied a flat and a foreign domestic helper shouted at for asking for a menu in English. There are also cases in which taxis do not stop for those from ethnic minorities and a shopkeeper branding Indonesian helpers as thieves.
The campaign would not be needed if racial prejudice were not an everyday problem in society. If a survey this year is any guide, three in five respondents said members of ethnic minorities suffered prejudice. The foundation said it wanted to go further than raising awareness and to empower individuals of various ethnic groups to speak out and become leaders of their communities.
Non-Chinese communities currently account for 3.8 per cent of the city’s population. While many of them were born and raised here, integration remains a challenge owing to language and cultural differences. For instance, a study in 2016 found that 64.3 per cent of those aged five to 14 were able to read Chinese, but their reading skills were inferior to those of their Chinese peers. The hurdles in higher education and employment can be imagined.
The difficulties were also acknowledged by the chief secretary, who pledged better efforts to improve support in education, work and social welfare. These include raising subsidies for kindergartens with non-Chinese children, providing job matching services and establishing outreach teams to offer welfare services for the needy. The effectiveness of the measures remains to be seen, but they are positive steps forward. Hopefully, we can be a genuinely inclusive and caring society, which those of all origins can call home.