Ethnic minorities in Hong Kong

Advisory committee chaired by top official needed to address issues facing ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, think tank says

Committee should be set up and chaired by top official on problems they face, think tank says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 September, 2015, 5:28am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 September, 2015, 11:14am

A committee should be set up to address problems faced by ethnic minorities and chaired by a top official such as the chief secretary or chief executive, a think tank has recommended.

The Zubin Foundation, which commissioned a study carried out by the University of Hong Kong into the status of ethnic minorities in the city, said it would be holding an information session next month for ethnic minority Hongkongers interested in sitting on the proposed advisory committee, and would be compiling a list of names for the government to choose from.

At an event yesterday organised by the foundation to mark the release of a report on the study - the first of its kind in Hong Kong - a panel of speakers called on the government to make "informed decisions" on education, employment and livelihood issues confronting Hong Kong's ethnic minorities, a process they said starts with compiling comprehensive statistics.

"In light of what we have found, we are asking ethnic minorities in Hong Kong to nominate themselves - those who want to sit on government advisory committees, who are committed to Hong Kong, with expertise in your field," said Shalini Mahtani, chairwoman of the foundation.

The study was carried out by HKU's Centre for Comparative and Public Law.

Mahtani said a full breakdown of statistics on ethnic minorities in areas such as kindergarten enrolment, ageing or the minimum wage had previously not been available.

The foundation's study was compiled using various pieces of research, quantitative surveys and piecemeal statistics from government departments including the Census and Statistics Department in the years since the handover. It took roughly 20 months to put together.

"This research is not comprehensive," said Puja Kapai, a professor of law at HKU who carried out the analysis. She said statistics on each individual minority group were still needed as the difficulties they faced were quite different. Only with good statistics can well-informed policies be formulated, she said.

Causasian population not included

The analysis commissioned by the Zubin Foundation and carried out by the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Comparative and Public Law does not include the Caucasian population, in part because of the lack of data, but also because the problems and issues that community faces is different from those faced by the South Asian and Southeast Asian ethnic groups, said the foundation's chairwoman, Shalini Mahtani. The city's foreign domestic workers are also excluded for similar reasons.

Mahtani said the foundation advocates differentiating between the various ethnic groups as even within the local South Asian and Southeast Asian communities, they could face unique problems. Most ethnic minorities also don't identify with the term "ethnic minority" - with around 63 per cent of them identifying as "ethnic origin and Hong Kong", according to statistics included in the research.