Speech by Acting CE at launch ceremony of Race for Opportunity: Diversity List 2018 (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. It is my great pleasure to join you all here today to launch the Race for Opportunity: Diversity List 2018.
Hong Kong is home to some 250 000 ethnic minority residents, accounting for 3.8 per cent of the whole population. According to the 2016 Population By-census, the ethnic minority population expanded rapidly in the five years between 2011 and 2016 at an average annual rate of 5.8 per cent, which is much faster than the territory-wide growth rate of 0.5 per cent.
The Government is committed to providing equal opportunities for the ethnic minorities and facilitating their integration into our community. To ensure that Government policies can cater for various social groups, the Chief Executive has pledged in her election manifesto that more ethnic minorities will be appointed to different Government statutory bodies and committees so that Government policies can cater for various social groups.
While many ethnic minorities have settled in Hong Kong for generations, others are new arrivals to start a new life here. Owing to language barriers and cultural differences, some of them do encounter different degree of difficulties in their everyday life. To support non-Chinese speaking students in learning the Chinese language systematically and to assist their integration into the community, the Education Bureau has implemented the Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Learning Framework, Learning Framework in short, in primary and secondary schools since the 2014/15 school year. We are closely monitoring the implementation of the Learning Framework in schools to collect first-hand information regarding curriculum planning, learning, teaching, and assessment for discussion with experts, academics and teachers so as to gauge its effectiveness. Views of ethnic minorities parents and relevant organisations will also be taken into consideration.
To this end, the Zubin Foundation has been our staunch supporter and partner and launched the first Diversity List two years ago. So far, the Foundation has identified a number of non-Chinese individuals who are elites of their professions and are devoted to contribute to Hong Kong by serving on Government advisory and statutory bodies. I am grateful to note that eight of them have been invited to join ten advisory committees. We will continue to invite more ethnic minorities from different sectors of the community to share with us their views and suggestions.
To provide more opportunities for more diversified participation in policy discussion, we have launched the Pilot Member Self-recommendation Scheme for Youth to invite young people to nominate themselves to specified Government committees. The response to the Pilot Scheme was overwhelming and a number of applications were submitted by young people from different ethnic backgrounds. I have met some applicants in person and was deeply impressed and touched by their commitment and determination in serving society. While the first phase of self-recommendation has ended, I encourage our young people who are interested in serving the community to put forward your resume to the Home Affairs Bureau for inclusion into the Central Personality Index for consideration by other Government committees when they consider appointing new members. It is our aim to double the overall ratio of youth members to 15% within the current-term Government.
To enhance collaboration on support for ethnic minorities, we have responded to the earlier advice of some of the community leaders named on the Diversity Lists who are also members of the Committee on the Promotion of Racial Harmony whom I met in August last year and will set up a high-level steering committee to be chaired by me to coordinate, review and monitor work in this respect. I am happy today to say that the Financial Secretary has kindly acceded to my suggestion and earmarked in the Budget announced last month $500 million to strengthen Government's support for ethnic minorities. We need to get our act together to enhance the well-being of our ethnic minorities citizens, promotes their upward social mobility and foster their integration and inclusion into our social fabric. All ethnic minorities are part and parcel of Hong Kong. We cannot and should not leave anyone behind.
On legislation, the Race Discrimination Ordinance, which is enforced by the Equal Opportunities Commission, was fully implemented in 2009. In 2016, the Equal Opportunities Commission submitted its proposals on the Discrimination Law Review to the Government. Among others, nine recommendations were accorded priority of which seven related to the Race Discrimination Ordinance. These recommendations would provide protection against racial harassment to persons in a common workplace as well as harassment by service providers and service users. We aim to table the legislative proposal of the priority recommendations at the Legislative Council this year.
No less important, legislation must go hand in hand with public education to raise public awareness of social inclusion. The Equal Opportunities Commission has spared no effort to promote racial inclusion and equal opportunities through various publicity and educational programmes, including the annual flagship event to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on tomorrow (March 21).
The Government is committed to promoting equal opportunity. We have just completed a review of the Chinese proficiency entry requirements for all the grades of the civil service. The number of civil service grades that have lowered the requirement of Chinese language proficiency has increased by 22 to 53. Apart from this, some departments have employed non-ethnic Chinese to meet specific operational needs, including the Police Community Liaison Assistants, the Race Relation Units of the Home Affairs Department, Employment Assistants of the Labour Department.
Nevertheless, Government's effort alone is not enough. We need to work in concert. We need the support from all quarters of the community to develop Hong Kong into a harmonious and inclusive city. My special thanks go to the Zubin Foundation and Spencer Stuart for their sterling and unstinting support in promoting social inclusion and building a truly caring, cohesive and fair Hong Kong.
On this note, I wish all of you an enjoyable afternoon, and your families a healthy, happy, harmonious and prosperous year ahead.
Ends/Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Issued at HKT 13:25
Issued at HKT 13:25