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Ethnic Minority in Hong Kong

minority (Leica X1)
Leanne the writer cum arts editor of HK Magazine broadcast an interesting question in her tweet, "Do you think of non-Chinese residents when you hear "Hongkongers"?"

To the locals, non-Chinese residents probably came up only on second thoughts.

During a visit to the UK two years ago, I met some people from the UK Judiciary and district councils speaking their mind aloud against the sizeable extra amount of public money spent on securing the civil rights of the ethnic minority simply because they couldn't speak English. They questioned the rationale of, say, producing an infomation pamphlet about the national medical services in some twenty language versions in the name of equality. Their stance was like, without going into the minutiae here, when in Rome one should speak in a lanugage the Roman speak.

Maybe Hong Kong is at the other extreme. Nothwithstanding the fact that Chinese and English are the two official languages here, it is indisputable that Chinese rules. Last year, a newspaper report revealed that since the territory's reversion to China, government information has been increasingly given in Chinese only. When the Education Bureau swifted the main medium of instruction in schools from English to Chinese in the early 2000s, the ethnic minority was gravely disadvantaged further. Despite the fine-tunning years later to allow schools greater leeway in the matter, most school children from non-Chinese ethnicity in main stream schools cannot cope well with the school curriculum based predominately on Chinese as the instruction medium. I personally had met these children who were proficient much better in English than Chinese but stayed in the underlayer of their classes at school.

As for job opportunities, there is much left to be done even though it is heard that the government had been preparing in recent years for accepting more ethnic minority into the civil service.

The University of Hong Kong has done a report on the issue which can be viewed here. One of cases is reproduced below to illustrate what the report is about:

"Benny is currently attending Asson College and studying at form 6 level. He attended a mainstream school in Li Cheng Uk government primary school in Cheung Sha Wan and then went to the Delia Memorial school for secondary education. For the HKCEE he was only able to pass one subject, English. He took French as his second language. During his time at secondary school he had Putonghua classes but he explains that his level of Putonghua is very low as he did not enjoy the classes and there were few opportunities for him to practice. He had not been studying Chinese during secondary school but decided to take Chinese during form 6. He soon dropped this subject since he was unable to understand and it was far too difficult for his level of Cantonese.

In secondary school, he achieved good results in form 1 but in form 2, he says he hung around with “the wrong crowd”. By form 3 most of his friends dropped out due to poor results. In form 4 he had a different group of friends and his results improved during his HKCEE years.

After form 5 Benny tried to find a job but no one replied to his job applications, whether they were full or part time jobs. He believes this is due to two main reasons: First, there are too few jobs because of the economic situation in Hong Kong. Second, employers are shocked when they see that he is not Chinese. He is asked whether he can read and/or write Chinese even when the job does not require knowledge of written Chinese. He currently has a part- time job handing out pamphlets for five hours everyday and is paid $150 per day.

He feels that he is a Hong Kong citizen although he does not feel like part of the local community. All of his classmates were from ethnic minorities and he found it difficult to get along with the Chinese students in the school. He suggests that schools should organise activities to encourage the students to play with and understand each other. He explains that sports tournaments are arranged in such a way that international school students/ ethnic minorities play against each other and Chinese schools play against each other. He does not understand why teams of mixed ethnic origin do not play against Chinese teams. He believes there is a severe lack of understanding between all the students which is also prevalent in Hong Kong society."

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