Civic Exchange, an independent Hong Kong think-tank, published a policy paper today called: “Cultivating a Multicultural Society and Combating Racial Discrimination in Hong Kong” just prior to the start of the United Nations Conference on Racism and Xenophobia in Durban, South Africa. The UN conference is scheduled between August 31 and September 7.
Kelley Loper, Civic Exchange researcher and author of the paper, said, “The project is intended to help policy makers in Hong Kong think more broadly about the issue of racial discrimination and the benefits of encouraging a multicultural outlook.”
The paper documents that racial discrimination is a serious problem in Hong Kong, although it is often denied. However, over the last year, continuous media and international attention has brought a degree of soul-searching within the community, and in particular among policy makers, as those who suffer discrimination came forward with their testimonies. Christine Loh, CEO of Civic Exchange, remarked, “The complexity of discrimination needs to be better understood by policy makers as they have a responsibility to end racism”.
The paper explores the problem of racial discrimination, its damaging effects, the positive aspects of promoting equal opportunities and the possible policy solutions that could help the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) achieve its aim for Hong Kong to become “Asia’s World City”.
These issues are especially important for Hong Kong since, despite its small size, it plays an important and unique role in China, Asia, and the world by virtue of its location and history.Hong Kong companies – even small firms – do business on a regional and global scale and encounter a large variety of cultures and nationalities.
The paper concludes that first and foremost, Hong Kong needs legislation banning racial discrimination in the private sector. Protections for minorities and a commitment to equal opportunities are a cornerstone of a tolerant, civilized society and Hong Kong already has positive experience with other types of equal opportunities laws. Hong Kong must also work toward changing the culture of denial and lack of attention that serves to worsen the problem and escalate tensions created by discrimination.
The government has a central role as it has the duty to protect the rights of everyone within its borders, to enact laws that prohibit racial discrimination and ensure that officials understand those laws, and apply them. The government is also duty bound to monitor actively the incidence of racism in its own institutions and in society and condemn it publicly whenever it is found.
An effective, committed approach to these issues will result in greater opportunities for Hong Kong to enrich its culture, promote its economic competitiveness, demonstrate its commitment to human rights, and provide a level playing field for all.
The paper contains recommendations in the area of employment, education, law, public
services such as immigration, customs and police, social welfare, as well as language.