The 9th Talent Competition for Ethnic Minority Students
Jointly Organised by Chung Sing Benevolent Society Mrs Aw Boon Haw Secondary School, Yuen Long Town Hall Support Service Centre for Ethnic Minorities, and the Centre for Advancement of Chinese Language

平等机会委员会主席朱敏健先生致辞 (只备英文版)


Mr Chu (Mr Stephen CHU Wai-ming, Principal, Chung Sing Benevolent Society Mrs Aw Boon Haw Secondary School),

Dr Loh (Dr Elizabeth LOH Ka-yee, Assistant Professor, Division of Chinese Language and Literature, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong),

Mr Cheng (Mr Brian CHENG Kwok-yan, Chief School Development Officer (Tuen Mun), Education Bureau),

Ms Tsang (Ms Cheryl TSANG, Senior Executive Officer, Home Affairs Department),

Ms Yan (Ms Fion YAN, Senior Liaison Officer, Tuen Mun District Office, Home Affairs Department),

Ms Kong (Ms Ruth KONG, Supervisor, Yuen Long Town Hall, Support Service Centre for Ethnic Minorities & Chomolongma Multicultural Community Centre),

judges, teachers, parents and students,

Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to this contest.

Let’s face it. Competitions are tough. The pressure to perform, the unexpected stage fright, the thought of going home without a prize… there can be an awful lot to handle. Just by showing up today though, our young contestants have already taken the first step in something far more important in life – exploring their potential, discovering their worth, and hopefully having some fun along the way. So let us all applaud to that.

But the word “potential” can be tricky. Our society makes us believe that some people are born with greater potential, that certain talents are more useful than others. Why else would people get different scores in exams, earn different incomes when they grow up, and end up on different levels of the social ladder?

Let me say this up front: our society is wrong.

I am going to tell you a story, so you know why I say this. Imagine there is a vast expanse of grasslands stretching out before you, far and wide. There are cows and sheep grazing on the grass, enjoying the sunshine. Now, a guy comes along. He takes a long, good look at the cows – their sturdy bodies, their cutely wagging tail – and he immediately sees an opportunity. He will build a farm and sell milk produced by these strong, beautiful animals.

What to do with the sheep then? He asks himself.

Unfortunately, our aspiring farmer is rather limited in his knowledge about the diverse animal kingdom, nor does he bother to learn more. He has no idea that sheep, too, can produce milk – creamy, silky milk with a unique flavour. He also knows nothing about the wool they produce, and the warm, comfy coats people make from it. In his eyes, the sheep are a bunch of unlikeable, foolish-looking creatures that keep making annoying “meh” sounds. So he does the only thing that makes sense to him – he drives them away and goes on to build a farm with cows only. Shortly after, he has to shut down his business because he is not making enough money.

Sometimes, our society is just like the failing farmer – blinded by assumptions, unable to see the beauty in the unfamiliar, and ultimately hurting itself. One word sums it up: prejudice. Prejudice is a dangerous thing because it can be used to justify the cruellest human acts: calling people hateful names, stripping them of the opportunity to learn or work, and, as history tells us, exterminating an entire race. It crushes our ability to thrive, and our hope for a better life.

The Equal Opportunities Commission exists precisely to lead the fight against prejudice and discrimination. Whenever you suffer unfair treatment based on your race, your skin colour, your gender or a disability, you can come to us and we will listen. Thanks to the law, we have the power to try and set things right with the people who did it to you.

But more importantly, we do not just sit there and wait for victims to come to our doorstep. We actively reach out to different sectors of the local community, with ideas about how to make the city a more inclusive place for ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups, because we know that prevention is always better than cure.

So here are what we do: we issue guidelines to kindergartens, so that they will arrange admission interviews in English for your little brothers and sisters; we make recommendations to the Education Bureau, so that they can keep improving the way you learn the Chinese language; and we offer training to companies and organisations, so that your parents can flourish in a culturally sensitive workplace and develop the career they deserve.  

Before I go, I just want to say that I know there are times you may feel like the sheep in the story – under-appreciated, forgotten, and left behind. But never let the farmer’s narrow mind devalue your unlimited potential. For sure, it may take some time to nail down the things you are really good at, and in the process you may be frustrated, obsessed even, with your weaknesses. But remember, just because we have our flaws and imperfections, it doesn’t mean they have to overshadow our talents and dreams. The key is to have faith. When we have faith, we keep trying; when we keep trying, we find our strengths; and when we find our strengths, we know what goals to pursue, and what kind of life we aspire to live.

Trust me, it will be a rewarding journey, and it begins here today. Whether you are singing a song, dancing it up on stage, or showing off your cool kung-fu moves, you are already starting something great. Win or lose, you will have your chance to shine in life, as long as you work hard and believe in yourself.

Last but not the least, I would like to take my hat off to the organisers for providing such an important platform for our amazing children to showcase their talents. The competition is entering its ninth edition this year, and we all know it is not easy to keep doing something for this long in this day and age, with so many competing priorities and distractions around. So kudos to that.

Thank you once again, and good luck to you all. Thank you.