Ethnic minorities in Hong Kong

Nepali residents get a say with the Ethnic Voice

The newspaper's publisher says the dual language weekly is helping minorities get more involved in society

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 September, 2015, 11:15am

As controversy rages over the appointment of former health chief York Chow Yat-ngok as head of the city's equal opportunities watchdog, there is proof that the voice of Hong Kong's non-Chinese population is being heard, according to the editor a new ethnic newspaper.

Binay Shah says the fact that his Nepali paper will celebrate its first anniversary later this month is proof enough that ethnic minorities have a say.

Shah is the publisher of Ethnic Voice, a weekly newspaper in Nepali and English which marks its first year in print on March 20.

It is one of three Nepali publications in the city but the only one that publishes stories inEnglish.

The paper specialises in issues surrounding the Nepali community in Hong Kong, covering local politics, community news and ethnic minority matters.

The newspaper prints between 1,000 and 5,000 copies per week. Shah believes that the publication is helping minorities get more involved in Hong Kong society.

"The newspaper has grown over the past year. It's obvious we have a future in Hong Kong and are trying to give ethnic minorities a bigger say," he said.

"We want to promote communication between the Hong Kong government, local Chinese people, and ethnic minorities in the city."

We want to promote communication between the Hong Kong government, local Chinese people, and ethnic minorities in the city

About 451,000 people from ethnic minorities live in Hong Kong - more than 63,000 are from South Asia, mainly India, Pakistan and Nepal, according to the 2011 census.

Shah, 40, said the paper was now also carrying news from the Indian community and hundreds of extra copies were being sold. The paper costs HK$5 and its office is in Yau Ma Tei. Advertising revenue is what keeps the paper afloat.

There's such a small workforce involved that although Shah is publisher he also works as a photographer and reporter when needed.

The Ethnic Voice is following the example by Filipino free newspaper The Sun which comes out bi-monthly and is read by 50,000. The Sun has been running for 18 years and is the city's longest running ethnic minority publication. Its editor Daisy Mandap agreed that ethnic minorities were having a greater say. She welcomed the appointment of Chow as chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, but still had reservations.

"You don't necessarily have to have a background in working with the ethnic community to do this job well, but there wasn't a lot of consultation between the government and ethnic minority groups before this decision was made," Mandap said. Former health secretary Chow will take over the equality watchdog from Lam Woon-kwong, who is leaving due to concerns of potential conflicts of interest with his role as the Executive Council convener. Chow will begin a three-year term on April 1.