Equal Opportunities Commission


Chairperson’s Articles

More intercultural dialogue can make Hong Kong safer for all


Letter to SCMP's Editor

The recent case of vandalism targeting the homes of ethnic minority families in a Kwai Chung housing estate may well be an isolated incident. The despicable acts, which included leaving waste and rubbish outside flats and hurling bags filled with water from a height at children who were playing, have no place in Hong Kong. Police have since arrested an individual suspected of carrying out these acts.

While these incidents are rare and extreme, and would no doubt be universally decried by all Hong Kong residents, I wonder if stronger community cohesion could further prevent future occurrences. At the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), we have long pushed for more platforms to encourage social interactions of people from different cultural and ethnic communities, which can make the shift from parallel existence to harmonious, respectful and enjoyable coexistence.

Having a friendly chat with a neighbour, classmate or fellow passenger in everyday settings is a powerful first step to dispelling biases and misconceptions that may have formed through years of social conditioning.

The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21 serves as a timely reminder of the need for more understanding and cooperation to bridge cultural divides. First declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002, following Unesco’s adoption of the 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, the day serves to highlight not only the richness of the world’s cultures, but also the essential role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development.

We need to facilitate more people-to-people interactions to build connections. In my conversation with Kowloon City district councillor Dr Rizwan Ullah, also a member of EOC, he attributed his fluent Cantonese and understanding of local culture to his childhood friendship with ethnic Chinese kids he met at neighbourhood football pitches. His story speaks to the power of sports in breaking barriers and cultivating a sense of belonging.

The Racial Diversity & Inclusion Sports Day we held recently is an example of using sports as a platform to break down stereotypes. Some local NGOs and sports clubs have also been forming mixed teams of Chinese and ethnic minorities in football, basketball and running.

We believe this approach can be expanded and adapted to further strengthen intercultural community relations and foster inclusive community building. We hope community and district leaders will take up the task.


The article was piblished in SCMP on 19 May 2024.