Regina Ip meets with Unison to discuss minority issues
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Chief Executive candidate Regina Ip has suggested the setting up of an Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs headed by a Commissioner to address the numerous problems plaguing the minorities in Hong Kong.

Mrs. Ip had heard of many problems presented at a meeting of Unison members on Saturday (14 January). The minorities spoke of problems they faced with educating their young, employment and various issues in their daily life. Minority parents said that many of their children found it difficult to get kindergarten interviews or places because they were not Chinese or could not speak Chinese. In some cases, even if the minority students got admitted to mainstream primary schools, they were allocated to non-Chinese speaking classes, hence being deprived of opportunities to assimilate into society.

“I believe every school handles this differently, “said Mrs. Ip, “However, one girl here has already reached the age for kindergarten, but she has not been admitted to any yet. This situation is unacceptable. I will promptly follow up this case.” Regina Ip promised.

“I always care about education. Like everyone here, I am discontent with the current situation. I believe we need to appoint someone who truly understands education to be the Secretary as a prerequisite for improving our education system. As I have mentioned in my policy platform, the next Secretary of Education must demonstrate the commitment to and the capability of putting Hong Kong’s education back to the right track and grooming talent for our future. ” Mrs. Ip said.

Apart from educational issues, ethnic minorities often face discrimination in the workplace. One attendee at the meeting, who has taught English for years, complained that ethnic minorities were often excluded from civil service jobs because the government requires applicants to pass the CRE Chinese test even when the positions concerned mainly involved using English. “I think the government could handle suitable applications with flexibility and review the level of Chinese proficiency required for different positions, so as to give ethnic minorities a greater chance to join the civil service and serve the community.” Mrs. Ip proposed.

Participants of the meetings also expressed their helplessness arising from the lack of accessible discrimination complaint channels. They requested a review of the Race Discrimination Ordinance. Mrs. Ip agreed the government should consider strengthening protection ethnic minorities through legislation.

“I am glad to have met friends from ethnic minorities at Unison today. Based on what I have heard at the meeting, I believe the crux of the problem is ineffective departmental coordination and policy implementation, despite the considerable amount of resources provided by the government.”

“I suggest the government create the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs and Commissioner for Ethnic Minority Affairs to coordinate ethnic minority matters in relation to school admission, Chinese learning, employment, religious activities, immigration, equal opportunities, etc. To ensure proper support to ethnic minorities, the Commissioner should be a member of ethnic minority groups.” Mrs. Ip concluded.

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