Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

The EOC expresses concern over poverty situation of ethnic minorities


The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is deeply concerned about the findings of the Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report on Ethnic Minorities 2016 tabled last week for discussion with the Poverty Commission. The EOC calls on the Government to take concrete measures for improving the employment potential of EMs as the key to alleviate their poverty, besides providing EMs with better access to Government subsidies and allowances.

The EOC Chairperson, Prof Alfred CHAN Cheung-ming, said, “The Poverty Situation Report on Ethnic Minorities 2016 shows alarming levels of poverty among the city’s ethnic minority population. Equal access to employment opportunities necessitates the provision of equal access to quality education and necessary support to overcome language and social barriers. The Government needs to study the data carefully and come up with concrete steps to help the EMs in order to show its commitment towards their betterment.”

The Report shows that one in five ethnic minorities (EMs) is living below the poverty line. The poverty rate among EMs has gone up to 19.4% in 2016 as compared to 15.8% in 2011. After taking into account Government subsidies and allowances, the rate was down to 14.5% but is still higher than the rate for the general population.

More worrying is the fact that unlike the rest of the population, working poverty seems to characterise poverty among many EMs. Generally speaking, this is attributed to their lower incomes resulting from poorer education levels and skills. Inadequate Chinese language proficiency is another factor leading to poorer job prospects and therefore lower employment incomes. The EOC has in its various submissions repeatedly stressed the need for better support for EM children in their learning of Chinese language in school, as well as measures to support skills and language acquisition by EMs entering the job market.

The EOC has also recommended more training courses in English in vocational training institutes, the shift of focus to functional language competence for the workplace from academic competence, stronger monitoring by the Labour Department on justifiable Chinese proficiency levels in the job vacancies it receives and employer education on setting appropriate requirements so as not to lead to direct or indirect discrimination.

Prof CHAN added, “The EOC is pleased however to note that new initiatives are taken by Government Departments like the Hong Kong Police (namely Project Gemstone and Project Himalaya) and Social Welfare Department (for ethnic minority youth in healthcare training), with positive echo from the private sector (eg. the joint seminar on ‘Corporate Role in Promoting Racial Diversity’). Nonetheless these initiatives are still far and between.”

“The Government is recommended to take a lead in promoting a multi-cultural workforce by reviewing the language proficiency requirements of more posts in the civil service and making adjustments in the recruitment selection process,” concluded Prof CHAN.


Equal Opportunities Commission
13 February 2018