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《 法政匯E 》第三期

2016/2/23 — 15:48

【平權及反歧視通訊期刊】法政匯E 第三期

為推廣平權及消除社會上各式各樣的歧視,法政匯思特意設立通訊期刊《法政匯E》(E代表Equality,即平等),探視社會上的平權及歧視議題,希望能夠引起公眾關注平權背後的法律及政治問題。

 第三期精彩內容

1. 序:哀

2. 《立法禁止性傾向、性別認同及雙性人身份歧視的研究》

3. 淹沒在誤導言論下幾點有關在港「難民」的事實

4. 具備種族主義的「中國人」

5. 跋:恥 — 令人O嘴嘅性別主義

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序:哀

今期《法政匯E》的其中一篇文章,是關於種族、國籍及身份認同三者的關係。我們相信,一個政權沒有權去強逼人民背上特定的身份認同,這是基於每個人都是生而平等而自由的;對於獨特的本土文化,理應尊重,甚至加以保育及傳承。

大年初一晚上至大年初二早上的旺角街頭,發生了一件不幸的警民衝突導致流血的事件。事件在這一黑夜迅速升溫,可能跟累積日深的民怨有關,也可能因警方管理示威事件的手法而變得惡化;但回歸基本,這次事件的源起,是有團體希望支持在旺角經營的夜市小販,保留本土文化特色。

今期《法政匯E》的文章並非針對是次事件而寫。而在是次事件發生後,我們的立場也沒有改變:我們尊重本土身份的認同,也支持保育本土獨有的文化。我們譴責政權無理的打壓及暴力;同時認為以暴易暴無助訴求。

正如法政匯思於2月9日的聲明所言,將是次事件偽裝為單一的暴力事件,是不盡不實的描述[1]。這不是一宗普通的衝突事件,也多於本土意識的爭論。

港府理應好好反省是次事件反映的問題,及其在是次事件中的責任。

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《立法禁止性傾向、性別認同及雙性人身份歧視的研究》

平等機會委員會(平機會)於較早前委託香港中文大學香港亞太研究所性別研究中心進行了「立法禁止性傾向、性別認同及雙性人身份歧視的研究」。平機會委員已審閱及通過了這研究報告,並於2016年1月26日公布了研究的結果。

研究顯示香港的同性戀者、雙性戀者、跨性別人士和雙性人(性小眾)在僱傭、教育、提供服務、處置及管理處所,以至政府職能等範疇經常受到歧視。 歧視者的地位往往較性小眾高,因此性小眾難以或根本無法討回公道。性小眾受歧視的情況非常值得關注。

歧視不單令個別性小眾蒙受身心及經濟上的損失,亦損害香港吸引和挽留人才的能力,影響我們開明、廣納賢才的形象。

研究發現民意明顯贊成立法禁止性傾向、性別認同和雙性人身份歧視。 研究包括透過電話訪問了1,005位受訪者。受訪者中超過半數(55.7%)贊同應該立法保障性小眾,數字幾乎是2005年(28.7%)的雙倍。有宗教信仰的受訪者也有近半(48.9%)贊成立法。年齡介乎18至24歲的受訪者(91.8%)尤其贊成立法,鑑於年輕人的支持,未來支持立法的民意很可能持續增加。

研究要求政府就立法進行公眾諮詢,而諮詢的重點應是法例的範圍和內容,而非應否立法。諮詢的題目應包括受保障的特徵和相關定義、違法行為的類別、保障範疇和可能獲豁免的情況等。

研究亦對政府作出其他多項建議,例如考慮進一步探討宗教或信仰歧視的問題、為公務員和公營構職員提供訓練和指引、加強公眾教育,以消除對性小眾的誤解和成見。

平機會將把研究報告呈交政府考慮。

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淹沒在誤導言論下幾點有關在港「難民」的事實

 假難民」和「非法入境者」在「濫用聲請機制」?

一般香港人,除了在國際新聞聽過「難民」這個詞語,很少會聯想起香港。又或者只會回憶起上世紀80年代,因逃避戰亂來港的「越南船民」,耳邊迴盪那句「不漏道啦」。誰知把「難民」重新帶進香港人茶餘飯後話題的人,竟然是特首;發言場合,竟然是施政報告。

特首既然只能為香港人承諾「一帶一路」的天方夜譚,他當然不能給「難民」們帶來什麼好消息。 特首前一聲「聲請機制被濫用」,後一句「必要時退出《禁止酷刑公約》」,主流傳媒應聲連番報導尋求庇護人士留港,期間「無惡不作」,多年來「耗費公帑4.3億」。「難民」自此只有「假」,「聲請」成功率低就等如「 濫用機制」。他們不是 「黑工」,便是「罪犯」,又有「免遣送」擋箭牌,已成為治安的「毒瘤」。[1] 短短四星期內,由寂寂無聞,頓成眾矢之的!原因是特首、保安局、主流傳媒罕有地幾乎意見完全一致。先有媒體在今年一月報導關於涉及南亞裔人士犯罪被捕的消息,一星期後,獨家以評論文章批評政府審核「聲請」程序緩慢,浪費公帑資助聲請人獲取法律意見,是香港不應背負的「包袱」。政府立刻雷厲風行,二月頭高調宣佈在重慶大廈被捕,涉嫌搶劫的巴基斯坦人,「都是酷刑聲請人」。保安局隨即向立法會大會,簡述局方將會全面檢討2013年制定後從未檢討過的統一審核聲請程序。一連串行動都給市民一種特區政府少有的快,狠,準。

然而,當中有多少報導是基於客觀事實? 被「濫用」的聲請機制,對於可能存在的「真難民」,是否合情合理?

沒有所謂「假難民」,只有「 非法入境」的真標籤

首先,公衆一般都不清楚難民的定義是什麼,亦不清楚難民逃難來香港背後的原因。根據1951年《關於難民地位的公約》,難民的定義為具有正當理由畏懼(well-founded fear)因其種族、宗教、國籍、屬於其一社會團體或具有某種政治見解受到迫害而逃離本國的人;難民亦要證明他們的原居國沒有能力或不願意保護他們。譬如,難民可能是因為在家鄉參與民主運動而受到迫害的社運人士、為逃離強制徵兵制的逃兵、人權捍衛者或酷刑、性暴力以及性別暴力的倖存者。但是,在大部份情況下,他們的「難民」身分,須先獲得政府或聯合國難民署確立,他們才能獲得庇護。按此定義,根本不可能會有所謂的「假難民」。上述報導的外來人士,都是正在尋求庇護,而聲請未獲得確立的「尋求庇護人士」。稱呼他們為「假難民」,可算是偏離事實的污衊。

而保安局在立法會稱呼難民為「 非法入境者」,更是混淆公眾視聽!在現行的出入境制度下,打算尋求庇護的人士只可於逾期逗留而即將被遣返時提出聲請。就算他們持有合法簽證來港,亦必須於簽證過期後(或免簽證待遇失效後)才可提出聲請。所有在香港尋求庇護的人——即使其聲請已獲聯合國難民署確定——均會被當作非法逾期逗留人士。 這是因為港府於國際法下的責任,亦即免遣返原則(non-refoulement),只在即將被遣返時適用。這迫使尋求庇護人士成為逾期居留人士的行政措施,備受聯合國禁止酷刑委員會批評。因此稱呼尋求庇護人士為 「 非法入境者」實在是誤導。更令人遺憾的是這一個標籤極為負面,容易更令公眾誤以為尋求庇護人士全都觸犯法例。

「確立率低」立論偏頗;「濫用」事列以偏概全

傳媒經常引用現行審核機制僅0.33%的確立率「證明」聲請者大都為「假難民」。港府更稱大部分聲請人來自巴基斯坦、印度、孟加拉、越南、印尼及菲律賓等沒有受戰禍所苦的國家,「證明」制度遭「濫用」。這些言論實在荒謬。

首先,正如聯合國禁止酷刑委員會指出, 低的確立率除反映審核聲請的標準極高之外,也有可能是因為審核機制存在太多不別要的限制。至於難民逃到香港,可能是受到極權政府迫害,未必是只為逃避戰亂。 根據聯合國難民署2015年的資料,全球有不少難民來自社會十分穩定的極權國家。已被確立為難民的聲請人當中,就包括241,973名巴基斯坦難民以及313,332名越南難民。因此,每一宗聲請都必須獲得獨立的審核,絕不能用聲請人來自甚麼國家,甚至一個百分比來概括。

另外,政府由始至今一直未有公布統一審核聲請的相關數據。社會也一直缺少關於在港尋求庇護人士的可靠資料。單單在2015年,協助留港難民的志願團體Justice Centre便接觸過來自40多國的尋求庇護人士。當中有不少來自「全球十大難民原居國」,包括敘利亞、阿富汗、索馬里、南蘇丹、蘇丹和緬甸。許多聲請人已經在香港虛耗了很多年,有的甚至滯港多年仍然未獲安排出席入境處的會面。 傳媒如果只選擇性報導某些聲請人的不良行為,市民很容易相信所有聲請人都刻意濫用機制,心懷叵測。

語言偽術背後的鴕鳥政策

事實上,任何一個國家的聲請機制都可能遭到某些人濫用。然而,一個不透明的審核機制只會使得聲請不斷積壓,到頭來反而便宜了濫用機制的人。[2]  自2013年保安局公布統一審核聲請至今,一直未為細節立法,譬如處理聲請的正確程序和時間表以防止不公平和過份延誤 、聲請人應呈交的證明文件、處理聲請時考慮的具體客觀因素等等。單單以行政措施嚴格「管理」聲請人滯港期間的日常行動,不讓他們在符合某些條件後,外出尋找工作,自力更生。 在不明朗的前景、隨時遣送回國的恐懼、生計不保,加上傳媒、政府的歧視言論,即使再有耐性的善良聲請人,都有機會被迫為謀生鋌而走險,成為香港所謂的「治安毒瘤」。政府應著力研究以法列確立一個全面、有效率、透明而且公平公正的聲請制度, 非與偏頗的傳媒一起玩弄語言偽術,對問題的癥結反而置若罔聞。

其實,勇敢逃離本國來港尋求庇護的人士,因過往飽受逼害,反而比習慣了自由的香港人更加堅毅、包容。香港人在面對言論、政治參與空間不斷收窄,是非黑白顛倒的同時,他們的故事、經歷可能給予不少啟發,為香港自己的自由奮鬥增添一份動力。

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具備種族主義的「中國人」

在外地,如果被問到你是什麼人,你會如何回答?

「我是香港人。」

「那麼你是中國人嗎?」

「...」

近來,「中國人」一詞成為了社會熱話。從比較嚴格的法律角度,「中國人」可以解作擁有「中國國籍」的人,或者「中國公民」。[2]

但是,在近來的爭論中,更多人會以自己的身份認同,來定義自己是否中國人。因此,在外地被問及「那麼你是中國人嗎?」的時候,可能你也會有點猶豫。

在日常生活中,我們有時候也會用一個人的種族去界定那人是否「中國人」。即使在法律界,律師們有時也會不經意地說:「係中國人法官定係外國人(或者鬼佬)法官審呀?」其實他們的意思當然不是深究法官的國籍或公民身份,而是法官是否「華人」,或者會否說中文。這是一個我們對詞語解釋及運用的議題,但背後還蘊藏著一股種族主義的意味。有時,我們好像也會潛意識地認為,只要你是「華人」,你就是「中國人」了。

曾經有報道指出,香港小二的教科書出現了這樣的一句話:「因為我有黑眼睛,黑頭髮和黃皮膚,所以我是中國人。[3]

筆者認為,這是在教育我們下一代一個相當危險的概念。最簡單來說,世界上黑眼睛、黑頭髮和黃皮膚不只是中國人,還有日本人、韓國人、新馬華人、華裔外國人等等。這句出現在教科書的說話,差不多可以用「謊言」來形容了。

更加重要的,是一個人的種族與身俱來,基本上是「出生彩票」(birth lottery)的結果,但是因此而定義那個人的「國籍」和「身份認同」,除了限制個人自由,也是對個人尊嚴的不尊重。

可惜,在香港,這樣的事情常常發生。在香港回歸前,全國人大常委曾就香港人的國籍問題作出了解釋:

「一、凡具有中國血統的香港居民,本人出生在中國領土(含香港)者,以及其他符合《中華人民共和國國籍法》規定的具有中國國籍的條件者,都是中國公民。

二、所有香港中國同胞,不論其是否持有“英國屬土公民護照”或者“英國國民(海外)護照”,都是中國公民。...」[4]

這個解釋將大部份的港人,在法律上自動認可為「中國人」,但這只限「有中國血統」的香港居民,以及「香港中國同胞」。不少少數族裔在香港土生土長,但申請入中國籍及取得特區護照卻處處碰壁,因為香港入境處審視入籍申請,其中一項(同時在網頁上列為第一項)因素,就是「申請人是否為享有香港居留權的中國公民的近親屬」。[5]住在香港的少數族裔及其近親屬並未因人大常委的解釋而自動獲得中國公民身份,那麼他們該如何符合這項要求?而中國(包括香港)作為聯合國《消除一切形式種族歧視國際公約》的締約國,但是在國籍問題上,卻採取了極具種族主義的思維。

另一個相關的問題,是一個政權或者社會大眾,是否有權將一個人的國民身份強加與別人身上。近日,在南韓發展的台灣女藝人周子瑜因在電視節目上揮動中華民國國旗,之後就被狙擊,甚至要公開道謙兼承認自己是中國人。李波明明是英國公民,但仍被中方指他「首先是中國公民」。為什麼我們不能自由地選擇自己的身份認同呢?

港府早前提倡國民教育,希望提升下一代國民身份認同。到底中國政府及港府有沒有反省過,為甚麼香港回歸快20年,人心卻越來越與中國疏離?

港府積極將香港教育「中國化」,又國民教育,又普教中,又推廣認讀簡體字,反而忽略對本地文化的尊重,結果捍衛本土的意識越趨熱烈,國民身份認同越來越低。一切似乎都是港府自作自受。

有些人很想成為中國人,卻因種族和膚色,被你百般阻撓;有些人想保留自己的文化,你卻不斷蠶食,最終他們連國家都不想認了。君不見唯有尊重差異,擁抱自由及多元,才是讓一個國家得人心之道嗎?

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跋:恥 — 令人O嘴嘅性別主義

『皇者歸來』是一個為有男子氣概的異性戀男人而設的部落格,讓少數敢言而相信男人應像男人,女人應像女人的美國現代男子聚首一堂。

強烈不歡迎女人及同性戀者在這裏留言。

Return Of Kings is a blog for heterosexual, masculine men. It’s meant for a small but vocal collection of men in America today who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine.

...

Women and homosexuals are strongly discouraged from commenting here.[6]

喺提倡性別平權嘅今時今日,以上從部落格引用嘅文字,實在令到小編O晒嘴。

「皇者歸來」部落格由一個美國人Roosh Valizadeh營運,部落格上不乏充滿散播性別定型,甚至貶低女性嘅文章,例如其中兩篇文章嘅題目分別係「點解『順從』係形容女子特質嘅最佳詞語」(“Why “Docility” Is The Best Word To Describe Femininity”)[7]同「女人唔應該有投票權」(“Women Should Not Be Allowed To Vote”)[8]。佢甚至寫過一篇文章,提議將喺私人地方發生嘅強姦合法化[9]!有人話哩篇文章係一篇曲線文(即諷刺文章),點解讀就交俾大家決定喇。

哩位Valizadeh仁兄仲創立咗個叫做「新男人主義者」(“neomasculinist”)嘅組織,佢哋本來打算喺2月6日,喺全球各地,包括香港,舉行一個「國際見面日」,邀請全球同路人見面[10],不過後來又話因為安全同私隱問題而取消咗[11]

哩位仁兄令到小編諗起另一位歧視小先鋒--美國共和黨總統候選人特朗普(Donald Trump)。佢出名言論出位,發表針對穆斯林言論之餘,仲講過好多侮辱女性嘅說話[12];佢仲曾經同Fox News總統辯論女主持人Megyn Kelly 炒大鑊,人地問題銳利就話人地「周圍出血」(“blood coming out from… wherever”),雖然之後又死撐唔係暗指Kelly月經[13];後來佢仲連Kelly主持嘅總統電視辯論都唔去。[14]

相信大部份讀者都會好似小編咁,對Valizadeh同特朗普對於性別議題嘅奇特觀點不敢苟同。

其實小編好想問佢哋兩位,如果兩位真係覺得自己咁威威,點解你一個就唔歡迎女性同同志喺你個部落格同你辯論,另一個就連辯論都唔去呢?

太陽底下真係乜人都有。

 


[2] 在某些國家,擁有國際並不等於是公民,因為公民可享有更多權利及義務,不過在中國法律中似乎沒有這樣的分別。詳見在香港同樣適用的《中華人民共和國國籍法》。


 
 

Progressive Lawyers Group Anti-discrimination and Equality Newsletter – PLG A&E Issue 3
To promote equality and eliminate discrimination in Hong Kong, the Progressive Lawyers Group has launched this newsletter to explore issues related to equality and discrimination and to enhance public awareness on the legal and political problems behind equality.

Content of Issue 3

1. Prologue: Grief

2. Study on Legislation against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status

3. Submerged Facts about Refugees in Hong Kong

4. Who is ‘Chinese’?: Racism and Identity Politics

5. Epilogue: Shame - The Shocking Sexism 

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Prologue: Grief
In this edition of A&E, one of our articles explores the relationships between race, nationality, and identity. We believe that a state does not have the power to force citizens to embrace specific identity markers. This is because everyone is born free and equal. Further, Hong Kong’s unique native culture should not only be respected, but protected, so to pass on to the younger generation.

The issue of identity undergirds what has been labeled by establishment media as the “riots” in Mongkok, which happened on the evening of the first day of the Lunar New Year and stretched onto the next morning. The incident saw police and protesters conflicting, leading to bloodshed and wounding on both sides, and unlucky passersby and street hawkers getting caught in the middle. The rapid escalation of events that evening may have been due to the deepening discontent within our society, or it could have been due to how the police handled the protests. Either way, the source of this incident is rooted in certain groups wanting to support the street hawkers, who are (by extension) representations of Hong Kong’s native culture.

The articles in this edition of A&E were not written as a response to that incident. Our stance has not changed before or after this incident, which is that the choice to embrace a local identity, and preservation of Hong Kong’s unique native culture, both ought to be respected. While we condemn the senseless oppression and violence deployed by the police force, we also believe that fighting fire with fire is ineffective for making people’s demands accepted.

As stated in PLG’s statement issued on February 9th, presenting this incident as a one-off act of violence is dishonest[1]; this is neither an ordinary confrontation nor solely about localism, and should not be depicted as such.

The Hong Kong government should carefully consider the myriad of societal problems as reflected by this incident, what role it has played, and what responsibility it holds.

------

Study on Legislation against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has earlier commissioned the Study on Legislation against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status (SOGI) to the Gender Research Centre of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The study report was reviewed and deliberated at the EOC meeting held on 17 December 2015, and the findings were released on 26 January 2016.

The study revealed that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people is a common occurrence in Hong Kong in the areas of employment, education, provision of services, disposal and management of premises as well as government functions. The discrimination reported is notable regardless of places of occurrence, life stages of the victims and demographic characteristics of the perpetrators. The perpetrators are usually higher up in the power hierarchy than the victims rendering means of redressing discrimination either not useful or virtually non-existent.

Discriminatory treatment harms not only the LGBTI individuals, but also Hong Kong’s ability to attract and retain talents, as well as our longstanding reputation as an open and welcoming city.

The study shows clear support for anti-discrimination legislation on the grounds of SOGI. Based on the telephone survey of 1,005 respondents, over half (55.7%) of the respondents agreed with legislation, nearly double the comparable figure (28.7%) from 2005. It is also notable that nearly half (48.9%) of those with religious beliefs also concurred. Support was particularly strong among those aged 18-24, of whom 91.8% considered anti-discrimination legislation necessary, which means public opinion will likely continue to shift in favour of legislation over the coming years.

The EOC calls on the Government to consider conducting a public consultation on introducing anti-discrimination legislation on the grounds of SOGI. The consultation’s focus should be on the scope and content of the legislation, rather than whether there should be legislation. Topics to cover should include the protected characteristics and relevant definitions, types of prohibited conduct, domains of protection and possible exemptions.

In addition to calling for public consultation on legislation, the study also recommended the government to consider exploring claims about possible discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief and to provide appropriate training and guidelines to government officials and staff of public bodies, as well as widening public education to dispel myths and misconceptions about LGBTI people, among others.

The EOC will submit the report to the Government for consideration.

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Submerged Facts about Refugees in Hong Kong

“Fake refugees” and “illegal immigrants” are “abusing the screening mechanism”

Most Hong Kongers usually hear the word “refugees” from international news, and seldom associate the same word with Hong Kong. Some may still have some recollection of the refugees arriving from Vietnam to avoid wars in the 1980s, and of the first phrase of the warning message in Vietnamese targeted at these refugees broadcast in the radio every day.  Unexpectedly this word was once again brought to our attention by the Chief Executive in his annual Policy Address.

If the Chief Executive was only able to promise local Hong Kongers a distant dream of “One Belt, One Road”, he was even less able to bring any good news to the refugees in Hong Kong. In his Policy Address, he mentioned that the government became aware of “abuses” of the “unified screening mechanism (“USM”)”, and that Hong Kong could withdraw from the UN Convention against Torture if it was proved necessary. This was followed by a series of coverage in the mainstream media about asylum-seekers “doing all sorts of evils”, and have “wasted HKD430m of public money” in total. “Fake refugees” began to replace the more neutral term “asylum-seekers”, and low acceptance rate could only mean that the USM was abused. During their stay in Hong Kong, “fake refugees” were either “illegal labour” or “criminals”, protected from immediate removal by the government’s obligation of “non-refoulement”, and surely become a “tumour of local law and order”.[1]  This rising from anonymity to instant infamy in 4 weeks was a result of a rare uniformity among the opinions of the Chief Executive, Security Bureau, and the mainstream media. It all started with media coverage in January of two South Asian men arrested for suspicion of robbery, followed by an editorial comment criticising the government for the slow screening process presently in place, and wasted public money on legal advice provided to asylum seekers. As a result, Hong Kong has shouldered upon itself a great burden that it never should have. The government responded with swift actions. The police highlighted that the few Pakistani arrested in Chung King Mansion in early February were all “torture claimants”. In a recent session of the General Assembly of the Legislative Council, Security Bureau introduced its plan to review the USM which has never been touched upon since its inception in 2013. Both actions successfully created a remarkable image of a responsive, decisive, and effective government among the general public.

There are no “fake refugees”, but the “illegal immigrant” label is truly damaging

First, most people in the public do not understand the definition of “refugee” or the type of situations refugees are fleeing from. According to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is someone who is outside of his/her country due to well-founded fear of persecution, based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership to a social group, and this person must be able to prove that his/her country is unable or unwilling to provide protection. For example, refugees may include social activists fighting for democracy, defectors of forced conscription, human rights defenders, or survivors of torture or sexual and gender-based violence. However, under most circumstances, these persons become recognised “refugees” only after they have proven to the satisfaction of either a government or the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) that they should be given protection. Therefore, there is no such thing as a “fake refugee”. The subjects of the media coverages mentioned above were only “asylum seekers” whose claims for protection were still under consideration. It is slanderous to call them “fake refugees”.

Security Bureau was also misleading the public by calling refugees “illegal immigrants” in the Legislative Council. This is because all persons seeking protection in Hong Kong can only file a claim for protection under the existing USM after they overstay, and are at risk of removal. Even those who arrived on a lawful visa can only file their claims after the visa expires, or after their visa-free stay ends.  As such, all people seeking protection in Hong Kong, even if they have been recognised as “refugees” by UNHCR, are treated as “illegal over-stayers” in the existing immigration regime. This is because the government’s “non-refoulement” obligation under international laws only applies from the moment when the person in question is at risk of immediate removal. This administrative requirement in the USM forcing asylum seekers to become an “overstayer” was severely criticised by the UN Committee against Torture. Therefore, this label of “illegal immigrants” is definitely misleading. But even more regrettable is the label’s strong negative association with criminality in the minds of the public.

Unreasonable conclusion from “low acceptance rate”; “Abuses” were selective coverages

The media often cited the low USM’s acceptance rate of 0.33% as proof of abuse of the system by “fake refugees”. The government even stated that the majority of the claims were from people from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines; countries not affected by war or conflict. Both arguments are problematic.

First, as pointed out by the UN Committee against Torture, such a low acceptance rate is “indicative of a distinctly high threshold for granting protection”, and also raises concerns about the unnecessary restrictiveness of the USM. The refugees fled to Hong Kong not only for the avoidance of war and conflict, but also oppression by the authoritarian regimes in their own countries. According to UNHCR, globally, in 2015, there were many refugees fleeing from countries ruled by a highly stable authoritarian regime. Among these recognised refugees were 241,973 people from Pakistan and 313,332 people from Vietnam. Therefore, each claim should be considered on its own merits, and can never be categorically represented by claimants’ countries of origin, or even over-simplified by a percentage figure.

Second, the government has never released any official data in relation to the USM. There is also a serious lack of reliable information about the asylum-seekers in Hong Kong. Only in 2015, Justice Centre Hong Kong, a voluntary organisation providing assistance to refugees in Hong Kong, met people from over 40 countries of origin. Quite a number of them came from the “top 10 countries of origin of refugees”, including Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Myanmar. Many of them have stayed in Hong Kong for many years; some even have not yet been called to attend the first interview with officers of the Immigration Department after years of waiting. Selective media coverage about undesirable behaviour of some claimants can easily create a public perception that all claimants abuse USM with sinister intentions.

Rhetorical language is only self-deceiving

No system is completely free from abuses. However, a screening mechanism in lack of transparency would only lead to a staggering number of claims waiting to be considered, enabling real abusers to rip undeserved benefits[2] . Since the UMS was enacted in 2013, Security Bureau has not commenced any studies for legislation which sets out the necessary details, for example, the proper procedure and timeframe to avoid unfairness and undue delays in the consideration of claims, the necessary documents to be prepared by claimants, and a detailed list of factors that should be considered in each claim. The current UMS mainly contains highly restrictive measures that limit the daily activities of claimants, and deny them all possibilities to seek employment upon satisfactory fulfilment of well thought-out conditions. Plagued with a dim future, fear of repatriation, and unsustainable livelihood, and the discriminative rhetoric deployed by the government and and media, even the most law-abiding claimants may be forced to criminality, becoming real “tumours of law and order”. For everyone’s best interests, the government should work on a comprehensive, efficient, transparent and fair USM established in legislation, and immediately stop turning a blind eye to the crux of the problem, and dissociate itself from the bandwagon of biased media.

In fact, many asylum-seekers suffered much oppression in their countries demonstrate an admirable level of courage, resilience, and inclusiveness, rare among Hong Kongers accustomed to freedom. Seeing our freedom of speech endangered, and political participation restricted day by day, the experience and stories of asylum-seekers may provide impetus in the defence of our city.

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Who is ‘Chinese’?: Racism and Identity Politics

While abroad, if someone asks what is your nationality, how would you answer?

“I am a Hong Konger.”

“So does that mean you’re Chinese?”

“…”

In recent years, the label of “Chinese”, or “Chinese person” has become a hot topic in Hong Kong. From a strictly legal point of view, “Chinese person” (中國人) can be defined as someone with Chinese nationality (中國國籍), or someone who is a Chinese citizen(中國公民).[2]

However, recent debates concerning this label has interpreted “Chinese” as more of a personal identifier. (Translator note: in English, there is no linguistic distinction between different nationalities of Chinese people. As long as one’s ethnicity is Chinese, then you are “Chinese”.  However, in the Chinese language, strictly speaking, such a distinction could be drawn: 華人  (hua ren) connotes someone of Chinese ethnicity/ancestry no matter what citizenship he or she holds or which country he or she lives in. In contrast, the strict definition of 中國人  (zhong guo ren) should be used to describe people of PRC nationality. Confusion arises because 中國人 is often used interchangeably with 華人 (but not vice versa) to reflect an individual’s ethnicity instead of nationality.)

It is for this reason that, when someone asks, “So does that mean you’re Chinese?”, many Hong Kongers would hesitate, not knowing how to answer.

In our daily lives, people would sometimes use a person’s ethnicity to determine whether somebody is a “Chinese person”. Even within the legal circle, it is not uncommon to hear lawyers absentmindedly ask whether a judge is “Chinese or foreign.” Of course, the lawyers are not actually interested in whether the judge has Chinese nationality or not, but whether the judge is of Chinese ethnicity (華人), or whether the judge speaks Cantonese. While usage of term is clearly a linguistic issue, it is also a racial identity issue, an identity politics issue. Sometimes, people would subconsciously think that just because one is of Chinese ethnicity, one must also be of Chinese nationality.

A Primary 2 textbook from a local school in Hong Kong contained this sentence: “I have black hair, black eyes and yellow skin; therefore, I am Chinese(中國人)”.[3]

The author believes that this is a very dangerous notion to teach our younger generation. Simply speaking, people with black eyes, black hair and yellow skin are not just ‘Chinese’, but also Japanese, Koreans, Malaysians and Singaporeans with Chinese ethnicity, and ethnic Chinese living abroad in Western countries (to name just a few examples). The sentence in that textbook could almost be described as an outright lie. More importantly, whether someone is born into one race and not another is completely random – one cannot choose which race one gets born into – and to thus defining a person’s nationality and national identity based on race is not only a restraint on personal freedom, but also an affront to an individual’s dignity.

It is therefore unfortunate that, in present-day Hong Kong, such arbitrary labeling and affronts happen constantly. Before the Handover, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (SCNPC) once issued the following interpretation on Hong Kongers’ citizenship “problem”:

“1. Where a Hong Kong resident is of Chinese descent and was born in the Chinese territories (including Hong Kong), or where a person satisfies the criteria laid down in the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China for having Chinese nationality, he is a Chinese national.

2. All Hong Kong Chinese compatriots are Chinese nationals, whether or not they are holders of the “British Dependent Territories Citizens passport” or “British Nationals (Overseas) passport”. …”[4]

 This interpretation legally and automatically lumps the majority of Hong Kongers into the category of “Chinese person”, but is only limited to “Hong Kong resident of Chinese descent” and “Hong Kong Chinese compatriots”. Hong Kong has a significant number of ethnic minorities locally born and grown, but they often face numerous challenges towards achieving Chinese nationality and obtaining HKSAR passport. This is because one of the criteria considered by the Hong Kong Immigration Department (and also listed as the first criteria on its website) for applying for Chinese nationality is whether the applicant has “a near relative who is a Chinese national with the right of abode in Hong Kong.”[5] Ethnic minorities and their near relatives living in Hong Kong are not automatically turned into Chinese nationals by the above SCNPC Interpretation. How are they supposed to fulfil this factor? It should be noted that China (including Hong Kong) is a signatory of the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), but utilizes a plainly racist policy to determine who can or cannot be a Chinese national.

Another related question is whether a government or the general public has a right to impose a national identity on individuals. The recent case of Taiwanese pop star Chou Tzu Yu, a teenage girl from Taiwan, waving the Taiwanese flag on television led to an onslaught of attacks upon her, ultimately culminated in Chou issuing a public apology. In that statement, she repeatedly said that she is Chinese (中國人).  In another incident, Lee Po, who holds British citizenship, was described by Chinese authorities as “a Chinese citizen first.” Why can’t people freely choose how to express their personal identities?

Recently, the Hong Kong government has been in support of a “national education” syllabus so to make Hong Kong’s younger generations more accepting their Chinese national identity. Has it ever occurred to the Chinese government and Hong Kong government to consider why Hong Kongers seem to increasingly refuse to identify as Chinese, even though the Handover has happened almost 20 years ago? While the Hong Kong government actively encourages the “Sinofication” of Hong Kong education, with “national education”, teaching of Chinese classes in Mandarin (as opposed to Cantonese), and teaching simplified Chinese writing, it has neglected to respect Hong Kong’s local culture. This led to the manifestation of a strong localist identity, and made Hong Kongers increasingly anathema to embracing their Chinese national identity. Despite the Hong Kong government’s numerous attempts to coerce Hong Kongers in embracing their Chinese national identity, most have been counter-productive.

In Hong Kong, there are some people who really want to become “Chinese”, but due to their race and the colour of their skin, are prevented from doing so. In contrast, some people want to hold on to Hong Kong culture, but are pushed to the point where they don’t even want to recognize China as ‘their’ country. It is only through respecting what makes people different and by embracing diversity would people genuinely want to be associated with, and belong to, a country.

------

Epilogue: Shame - The Shocking Sexism

Return Of Kings is a blog for heterosexual, masculine men. It’s meant for a small but vocal collection of men in America today who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine.

...Women and homosexuals are strongly discouraged from commenting here.[6]

 

In this age when gender equality is widely advocated, the words above quoted from the blog are indeed jaw-dropping.

The blog Return of Kings is founded and run by the American, Roosh Valizadeh, on which there is no lack of posts spreading gender-stereotypical messages that are even derogatory to the female. For example, there are two articles titled “Why “Docility” Is The Best Word To Describe Femininity”[7] and “Women Should Not Be Allowed To Vote”[8]. Valizadeh even wrote an article suggesting legalising rape on private property[9]. Some say that the article was a satire, yet this is left to you to interpret.

Valizadeh also established a group called “neomasculinist”, which planned to organise an International Meetup Day on 6 February 2016 for supporters in cities across the globe, including Hong Kong[10]. However, the meetings were cancelled due to security and privacy issues.[11]

Valizadeh reminds us of another icon of discrimination: Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate in the United States. He is known for his bold speeches. Apart from making speeches directed against Muslims, he has made degrading remarks about women in various occasions.[12] In the earlier Fox News presidential debate, he had a spat with the moderator, Megyn Kelly. He said that Kelly had “blood coming out of her… wherever” in response to her tough questions, though he later denied that his comment insinuated that Kelly was on her period[13]. After that, he even skipped a Fox News debate hosted by Kelly. [14]

I believe most of you, like me, disapprove of Valizadeh’s and Trump’s grotesque points of view over gender issues.

In fact, I am curious to ask the two that if they truly believe that they are superior to the others, why would one of them not welcome women and homosexuals to debate with him on his blog, and the other one even skip a debate?

Well, it takes all sorts to make a world.

 

 


[2] In some countries, being a national does not mean being a citizen, because citizenship may entail more rights and obligations. But in Chinese law, there seems to have no such distinction. See Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China, which is applicable to Hong Kong too.


 

 

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