Benny Yeung Tsz-hei, another Yau Tsim Mong district councillor, says steps should be taken to help integrate the Nepalese community with the wider Hong Kong community. He says Hong Kong people should understand more about Nepalese culture and vice versa. “There are major differences between the culture of Hong Kong people and Nepalese people in terms of language, food, religion and habits,” says Yeung.
He elaborates by describing how Nepalese people like to gather and have dinner in the streets late at night. These activities can be noisy and anger their Chinese neighbours.
Ip says misunderstanding is the result of a lack of knowledge about Nepalese culture. “The nature of the night gatherings are usually harmonious. It is similar to the way Chinese people like gathering together in Chinatown overseas to get a sense of unity.”
Currently, there are over 40 NGOs working to protect the rights of the Nepalese people in Hong Kong. However, the Southern Alliance’s Kumar says they are not effective and some Nepalese people do not even know they exist. “That is why minorities are not yet mixing in society. They are not involved in implementing ideas or getting people together. That is why there is no progress.”
Kumar believes political representation is an effective way to help people solve their problems. Without a Nepalese elected representative, Kumar says, the Nepalese have no voice. That is why he stood for the Yau Tsim Mong District Council election earlier this month.
Kumar came second in the election and missed out on representing his community at the district council level. He says he had never expected to win. “It is hard to compete with the local candidates as the ethnic minorities occupies seven percent of the Hong Kong population,” he says.
He believes the only realistic way for members of the ethnic minorities to have political representation is for the government to allocate one Legislative Council seat for ethnic minority residents to contest among themselves.
Despite losing at the ballot box, Kumar will continue to press for the rights of Hong Kong’s Nepalis. Working to achieve social inclusion and racial equality is a way for him to show the courage and spirit of the Gurkha.