Speech by CS at launch of "Race for Opportunity: Diversity List 2017" (English only) (with photos/video)
Shalini (Co-founder and Chair of the Zubin Foundation Ms Shalini Mahtani), Alice (Board Director of Spencer Stuart Ms Alice Au), consuls-general, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. On this meaningful occasion marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, I am pleased to join you all here today to launch the "Race for Opportunity: Diversity List 2017".
It is my great pleasure to see the completion of another Diversity List following its successful launch last year. Indeed, last year, the List nominated a total of 16 ethnic minority individuals of Indian, Pakistani and Filipino origin, who possess professional skills and commitment, to serve on advisory and statutory bodies of the Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) Government. I joined a luncheon with most of the 2016 nominees three months ago and was very much impressed by the passion of these ethnic minority friends to contribute to the betterment of our society.
I know that some of them have been appointed to our boards or committees, including the Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation Boards, the Hong Kong Deposit Protection Board, the Committee on the Promotion of Racial Harmony, the Payment Systems and Stored Value Facilities Appeals Tribunal, the Independent Police Complaints Council and the Personalized Vehicle Registration Marks Vetting Committee - a wide spectrum of government boards and committees.
Hong Kong is home to a diverse and multi-racial community, with more than 200 000 ethnic minority people choosing to settle here. I truly appreciate that many ethnic minorities, having been here for generations, such as Shalini who is the fourth generation of her family in Hong Kong, play important roles in shaping the city's history. And many indeed contribute to making our home a better place to live in. We embrace the value of racial equality that makes us an inclusive, cohesive and strong community here.
Since the enactment of the Racial Discrimination Ordinance back in 2008, the Equal Opportunities Commission (today we have both the current and the former chairmen here - Professor (Alfred) Chan and Dr (York) Chow) has endeavoured to increase public understanding of the law and promote cultural inclusion through a diversity of publicity and educational activities, including weekly radio programmes, newspaper advertisements, roving exhibitions, school drama performances and talks at schools. The Equal Opportunities Commission has set up an Ethnic Minorities Unit to promote anti-discrimination. The Government has also produced a documentary series called "Hong Kong, My Home" for local TV channels and the Internet to help the public understand the cultures and customs of different nationalities here in Hong Kong. In the light of the positive feedback, a second documentary series was broadcast in 2016, and a third drama series is in production. Radio Television Hong Kong is also running a media education programme for secondary and primary school students from March to July this year with a theme on "racial harmony". Undoubtedly, our efforts in promoting racial equality will certainly continue.
We also strive to cater for the special needs of ethnic minorities and ensure equal opportunities for them in all facets of life. A range of measures have been introduced to unleash their potential.
At the community level, we are providing funding assistance to six support service centres and two sub-centres to offer learning classes, counselling, integration programmes and interpretation services to ethnic minorities. We also commission non-governmental organisations to organise mutual help networks, volunteer programmes or community visits to help ethnic minorities adapt to the local culture.
To help students of ethnic minorities build up their confidence and interest in learning the Chinese language, we assist schools in developing school-based learning materials and adopting more flexible teaching strategies. The Policy Address this year announced that the Government would provide additional resources for eligible kindergartens admitting eight or more non-Chinese speaking students starting from the next school year to help improve the Chinese proficiency of these students, with a view to fostering a closer bond between ethnic minority groups of students at schools.
The Government also takes the lead to improve the career prospects of ethnic minorities. As far as job opportunities in the Government are concerned, we have comprehensively reviewed the Chinese language proficiency requirements and recruitment formats of relevant government jobs. Where appropriate, and without compromising the satisfactory performance of duties, we have in fact adjusted such requirements set for individual grades to ensure that ethnic minorities, like other applicants, have equal access to employment opportunities in the civil service. Since 2010, over 20 grades in the civil service have made suitable adjustments. We are seeing more and more ethnic minority faces in the civil service, most notably in the disciplinary forces such as the Police and the Correctional Services Department, and in fact the two departments have taken over 40 minority recruits altogether.
No doubt, knowledge in the languages and cultures of ethnic minority communities is conducive to the provision of public service for these communities in Hong Kong. A very good example is the recent incident where a Hong Kong-born Pakistani police constable successfully persuaded a suicidal compatriot to come down from a 20-metre-high crane after talking to him in their native language of Urdu. You cannot do it with a Cantonese-speaking police constable. This is very impressive indeed. Another example is the Employment Service Ambassador Programme of the Labour Department launched in September 2014. Trainees of the Youth Employment and Training Programme who can communicate in ethnic minority languages are engaged as ambassadors to help ethnic minority job seekers make use of various job search facilities and services at job centres, industry-based recruitment centres and job fairs. The Labour Department has so far employed 78 Employment Services Ambassadors.
Vocational knowledge and skills are no less important to job seeking. The Vocational Training Council offers dedicated vocational and professional education and training programmes to non-Chinese speaking youth and adults to meet their multifarious training needs. Also, the Labour Department has been making continuous efforts to canvass and disseminate vacancies suitable for ethnic minorities and organise large-scale and district-based inclusive job fairs to enhance their employment opportunities. Last year, two large-scale inclusive job fairs as well as 12 district-based inclusive job fairs were organised, with the construction industry being the major provider of jobs.
However, the Government's effort alone is certainly not sufficient. We need different sectors to join hands to promote social inclusion. We appreciate the good work of think tanks like the Zubin Foundation, which have conducted numerous research studies on ethnic minorities in Hong Kong and put forward constructive recommendations for policy makers and private organisations alike.
My special thanks must go to the Zubin Foundation and Spencer Stuart today for their continuous efforts in identifying talented ethnic minority individuals. This year altogether 22 candidates are on the Diversity List. What is more, the new category of "Community Connectors" has been introduced to feature ethnic minority individuals who have notable experience in directly working with fellow ethnic minorities to support them on issues ranging from employment and education to health and welfare. Government bureaux and departments will certainly draw reference from the Diversity List in strengthening the membership of our advisory bodies or statutory boards. We look forward to welcoming more elite representatives from different ethnic groups to join hands with us in serving Hong Kong and the community.
The Government will continue to develop Hong Kong into a socially inclusive society. We are grateful to have you as our partners. We have one mind, one heart and, of course, one purpose, and that is to break down all barriers to racial equality and to cement the community together. On this note I wish you all good health, and every success in your endeavours in enhancing the common good of our society.
Ends/Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:24
Issued at HKT 16:24