HK MOVE TO IMPOSE CHINESE LANGUAGE

Paolo Gambi, Rinascimento poetico

HK MOVE TO IMPOSE CHINESE LANGUAGE

HONG KONG, NOV 25 (REUTERS) – AN EXPATRIATE CIVIL SERVANTS TRADE UNION IN HONG KONG ON TUESDAY ATTACKED AS DISCRIMINATORY A NEW RULE THAT FORCES THEM TO PASS A CHINESE LANGUAGE TEST.
THE RULE, WHICH MAKES CHINESE A COMPULSORY QUALIFICATION BEFORE THEY CAN JOIN A LONG-TERM LOCAL PENSION SCHEME, WAS UNFAIR AND UNNECESSARY, THEIR UNION SAID.
THE POST-COLONIAL HONG KONG GOVERNMENT HAS SAID THE RULE, ANNOUNCED LAST SATURDAY, IS INTENDED TO DEVELOP STAFF WHO SPEAK BOTH CHINESE AND ENGLISH.
ALLAN ROGER, COUNCIL MEMBER OF THE ASSOCIATION OF EXPATRIATE CIVIL SERVANTS, SAID THE RULE WAS DISCRIMINATORY.
"IS THERE AN ACTUAL NEED FOR BOTH LANGUAGES IN THE POST? IT SEEMS TO ME YOU HAVE ALREADY GOT PEOPLE FUNCTIONING IN ENGLISH. THAT PRETTY WELL ANSWERS THE QUESTION," HE SAID.
"IT IS JUST ANOTHER DEVICE TO PROVIDE PROMOTIONS FOR LOCAL OFFICERS. THAT IS BARRED BY THE BILL OF RIGHTS," HE SAID, REFERRING TO HONG KONG’S CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTION LAW.
THE PROBLEM HAS ARISEN IN THE WAKE OF BRITAIN’S HANDOVER OF ITS FORMER COLONY TO CHINA ON JULY 1. THE NEW CHINA-BACKED HONG KONG GOVERNMENT IS STEADILY LOCALISIN#G THE CIVIL SERVICE.
MANY EXPATRIATE CIVIL SERVANTS EMPLOYED ON OVERSEAS TERMS DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE HONG KONG BUT WOULD LIKE TO BECOME PERMANENT LOCAL STAFF ON THE LOCAL PENSION SCHEME.
EVEN BEFORE THE NEW LANGUAGE RULE, EXPATRIATES HAD ALREADY FILED A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT TO PRESS THEIR DEMAND FOR LOCALISATION, AND THE CASE GOES TO COURT THIS FRIDAY.
25-11-97

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