Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor

What Colour Are You?

The Hong Kong Government and influential bodies like the General Chamber of Commerce claim that racial discrimination is not a problem in Hong Kong. To show how wrong this is we are today printing the first of a series of case histories.

Kiran Nihalani is a bright articulate 18 year old who has just finished her A levels in England. Born and brought up in Hong Kong she is a member of Hong Kong's Indian community.

This summer Kiran saw a job advertised in the South China Morning Post. It asked for a native English speaker to teach oral English in a kindergarten, no qualifications required. Kiran phoned up the number, and explained that she had just finished her A levels and was interested in the job. A Chinese sounding woman who answered the phone asked her "What kind of people are you?" Kiran said "What do you mean?" "What colour are you?" "I am Indian but I am a native English speaker." "Sorry, we only hire people from England or America - only native English people." "What do you mean by native English people?" "White people."

On hearing that Kiran said "I'll sue you", and put the phone down. Only after consulting a lawyer did she learn that she cannot sue, because in Hong Kong, unlike in Britain, in the whole of the European community, the United States, Australia, Canada and many other countries, there is no law against racial discrimination. Kiran can be legally refused a job on grounds of her colour by every employer in Hong Kong except the Government.

Please let us know if you know of other cases of this kind, so that we can keep up the pressure on the Government to outlaw racial discrimination of this kind.


1998 (c) Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor