In Hong Kong, the barriers to racial unity are far too many
- NGOs have long protested the “de facto racial segregation” in the Hong Kong school system
I am writing in response to the article, “Hong Kong must show it is home to all races” (October 31). Hong Kong is still far from being an ethnically integrated society. A recent survey conducted by local universities revealed that six in 10 Hongkongers believe there is prejudice against ethnic minority groups. And a study by the Equal Opportunities Commission in 2015 found non-white ethnic minority residents encounter the most discrimination, particularly relating to financial and housing services.
The everyday experience of ethnic minority groups in Hong Kong shows negative racial stereotyping of people from South Asian or African nations is not uncommon, even by neighbours or potential landlords, neither is racial abuse or bullying.
Compounding the problem is the language barrier, which affects their integration with the wider Hong Kong society, as well as their socio-economic aspirations. Even though many of them do well at school and can speak fluent Cantonese, they often cannot write Chinese well due to various reasons, such as little help from parents who do not know how to either.
NGOs like Unison have long protested the “de facto racial segregation” in the Hong Kong school system, and say 60 per cent of ethnic minority students are clustered in just 30 out of 870 primary or secondary schools. Many jobs in Hong Kong require a high proficiency in Cantonese, leaving many ethnic minority Hongkongers unable to try out for these.
Everyday racism in Hong Kong
In short, Hong Kong is far from being a truly racially integrated society. To this end, we need to eliminate discriminatory practices and have more minority-friendly policies. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s policy address last month highlighted measures to “strengthen support” for ethnic minorities and this year’s budget allocated HK$500 million to these efforts. The government is aware of the gaps, but it must clearly do more to address them.
Howard Lau, Ma On Shan