12/14/2007, 00.00
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Christian leaders call on government for more Chinese language training to integrate minorities

by Kevin Wang
In a document signed by the leaders of all the Churches present in the Territory the government is asked to improve language training as the best way to integrate newcomers; the leaders also remind the faithful that racism is a sin to be strongly condemned.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Christian leaders in Hong Kong have issued a joint statement urging the government to make a greater effort to improve proposed and existing educational policies in favour of ethnic minorities, viewed inadequate to fight racial discrimination. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun, Catholic bishop of Hong Kong made the request together with the local Anglican bishop and the leader of the Hong Kong Christian Council.

The Christian leaders welcomed the decision by the Hong Kong government to adopt legislation against racial discrimination saying that such a move was “a step forward”, but added that as it stands its scope was too limited and not very useful.

“Apart from hoping that meaningful improvements will be made to the bill, we are particularly concerned with the areas of education and translation services offered by government departments,” Cardinal Zen and the other Christian leaders said. “Resources must be made available to overcome discrimination in these two areas.”

“We urge the government to continue improving the teaching of Chinese to ethnic minority students, so that they can become as proficient as possible. Knowledge of the language is essential to advance integration, to further vocational training and higher learning, and to help youth belonging to ethnic minorities to pursue a career,” the leaders said. “The provision of translation in government services is essential to make them accessible to members of ethnic minorities. Job openings advertised by the Labour Department and notices issued by the Housing Department should also be in English.

The religious leaders said that the Christian Church “which heralds the message of love, the Christian Gospel, categorically condemns racism, xenophobia, and all forms of related intolerance as destructive to the vision of peace which God desires and which human beings, organisations of goodwill, and above all the Church, aim to promote.”

Last but not least the Christian leaders also called on the churches to raise the awareness of racial discrimination among their members and to sharpen their consciences of racism as sin; they also call on all citizens to refrain from acts and words discriminating against people of other races.

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