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Racial Harmony in Hong Kong

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Project to foster racial harmony
Chester Yung, Hong Kong Standard
May 18, 2005

Pakistanis and Nepalese considered top priorities for assistance, with other minorities to follow Bowing to pressure, the government will launch a pilot community development project this year to promote racial harmony.

According to the Home Affairs Bureau the project will cost HK$1.4 million a year.

The move follows an outcry from ethnic minority groups who demanded from the government that the issue of racial equality be addressed sooner rather than later.

Initially the Nepalese and Pakistani communities, who live in the Yau Tsim Mong district, will benefit from the project which will start at a date to be announced. It is also not known if other districts will benefit from the project in the future.

"Community development services include [Cantonese and English] language training programme, after school [tutorial] support for ethnic minority children and family assistance ..." deputy secretary for Home Affairs Stephen Fisher said at an ethnic minorities forum Tuesday.

"Due to language barriers and a lack of relevant information, some of the South Asian communities are [finding it difficult to integrate with the community]. The problem is particularly serious among Nepalese and Pakistanis," Fisher said, noting the project will foster better understanding and respect among people of different racial backgrounds.

A radio program in Nepalese and Urdu was launched six months ago and subsidized by the Home Affairs Bureau at a cost of HK$30,000 per month, Fisher said. However, the program is not about Hong Kong.

"We want to know about Hong Kong," said Muhammad Malik Khan of Pakistan Islamic Welfare Union of Hong Kong, which is a non-governmental organization (NGO).

According the latest census in 2001, the ethnic minority population stood at 344,000, representing 5 percent of total population. There are more than 40,000 South Asian and about 24,000 are Nepalese and Pakistanis.

The Society for Community Organization conducted a survey of the Nepalese community in February last year, saying unemployment among this minority group was as high as 43 percent when compared with the general unemployment rate 7.2 percent.

The group conducted a similar survey on the Pakistani community in the SAR and found similar results.

The group said the ethnic minorities are suffering from employment and financial problems brought about by discrimination and the government is doing little or nothing to help them.

In response to that cgarge, Fisher said laws against racial discrimination in Hong Kong should be in place by 2006, outlawing race discrimination.

Admitting the timing of the legislation is a few months behind schedule, Fisher said, the law is in its drafting stage.

The United Nations called on Hong Kong four years ago to complete legislation requiring compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
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Government will continue efforts to promote racial harmony
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Government Press Release

In response to media enquiries regarding the comments about racial minorities made by Legislative Councillor Priscilla Leung in RTHK’s “Letter to Hong Kong” broadcast today (May 3), a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said that the Government is committed to fostering racial equality and harmony.

The spokesman said: “Our community recognises and values the contribution of racial minorities. Government policy is to encourage their integration into society while preserving their unique cultural characteristics, as well as eliminate discrimination on the ground of race.

“The enactment of the Race Discrimination Ordinance is a major step forward demonstrating the Government’s commitment on eliminating unlawful racial discrimination. After the full implementation of the Ordinance around mid-2009, the Equal Opportunities Commission will enforce the law and handle complaints on racial discrimination.

“The Government has also been providing support services for ethnic minorities through sponsorship to non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Such services include provision of language courses on English and Cantonese, and other activities to facilitate their integration into the community.

“To further enhance support measures for ethnic minorities, we have provided funding grants to the NGOs to establish and operate four regional support centres for ethnic minorities. These centres will provide telephone interpretation service in seven ethnic minority languages, as well as language and other integration programmes. They will come into operation in mid-2009.

“There are also initiatives from bureaux and departments concerned to cater for the needs of ethnic minorities. For example, the Education Bureau provides supports for designated schools to cater for the needs of non-Chinese speaking students. The Vocational Training Council and the Employees Retraining Board have offered dedicated programmes for non-Chinese speaking students.

“We hope that all members of the community would work together in enhancing racial harmony and racial equality in Hong Kong.”
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