On Sunday 9 October, the racist network ‘Caring Hong Kong Power’ (CHKP) gathered around 2,000 mostly elderly people in North Point, Hong Kong Island, for a protest ostensibly against the Civic Party.
Filipino migrants support Socialist Action protest against racism
This new pressure group, CHKP, is a thinly disguised front for the pro-government camp and parties like the DAB (the Chinese Communist Party’s front organisation in Hong Kong). A local resident said that some marchers were bussed in by the pro-government camp and may even have been paid to attend the racist march. CHKP has been collecting signatures and holding rallies to oppose granting foreign domestic workers, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, similar rights to permanent residency as other foreigners who have lived and worked in the territory for at least seven years. Their agitation has singled out the Civic Party because a lawyer and former leader of this middle-class pro-democracy party is helping Filipino migrants with their court case. The film clip from Apple Daily below shows hysterical participants in the CHKP demonstration using foul language and ranting against Socialist Action and its counter protest. The language is sometimes so strong that the news reporters clearly came away sympathising with the anti-racists against the racists.
This racist movement must however be taken seriously and vigorously opposed by the left, labour organisations and genuine pro-democracy forces. The rise of racism represents a potential threat not just to migrant workers, or other target groups like new arrivals from mainland China, but to all workers and opponents of the government and its dictatorial pro-business policies.
Act against racism
Socialist Action, which is also standing Sally Tang Mei-ching in the district council elections in Hong Kong (see: Hong Kong: Socialist Action launches election campaign for district council) has made the struggle against racism a key plank of its election campaign. Other pro-democracy parties, including the much-maligned Civics, seem unfortunately to be trying to duck the issue altogether, or even worse, have publicly opposed the right of abode (i.e. equal rights) for migrant domestic workers. This is the case, shamefully, with the Democratic Party.
Sally Tang Mei-ching of Socialist Action speaking against the racist march
At yesterday’s CHKP march, Socialist Action organized a small but vocal counter-demonstration stressing the real fight is against the government and its support parties who are using racism against migrants to cover up their own disastrous record. Our protest was widely published in Hong Kong media including the TV clip below from Apple Daily. Our leaflets in English as well as Chinese, and banner in Tagalog (Filipino) drew jubilant support from migrant women workers who joined our action, as well as other passer by from a mix of backgrounds, local and foreign.
Socialist Action explains the need for working class unity in order to struggle for democratic rights, to defend public services and raise pitifully low wages. We point out the same politicians who are now scapegoating migrant workers in Hong Kong consistently attack all workers – opposing the minimum wage, opposing universal suffrage, opposing the eight hour work day, voting to privatize healthcare, housing estates and other public services.
It is clear the government – plumbing new depths of unpopularity – is behind the racist campaign. Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah Kit has stated that the government has given data to the pro-government parties such as DAB, data that it withheld from the recent court case over right of abode. In other words, the government is providing ‘bullets’ for the DAB and its allies to fire in the on-going district council elections, to whip up racism and, it hopes, to damage the chances of the anti-government camp.
Bourgoeis parties have no answers
The bourgeois and middle-class pan democratic parties like the Civics are choosing to go ‘ostrich’ on this issue, and bury their heads in the sand, rather than launch a counterattack against the racist campaign. The Civic Party leadership seem to be in disarray and confine themselves to supporting the ‘rule of law’ i.e. the court’s right to decide this issue, rather than debate the issue itself – which is about equal rights and opposition to racist discriminatory laws.
The right-wing and increasingly racist pro-government camp has so far made all the running on this issue, predicting an ‘invasion’ of Asian migrants and overburdened public services. But most domestic workers in Hong Kong do not choose to be here; they are forced to come to provide economic support for their families and would prefer to go home. As for the alleged burden on public services, the pro-government camp have created today’s actual crisis – refusing teachers’ calls for small class teaching and privatising health services so that a crippling staff shortage has arisen in public hospitals.
Socialist Action is fighting to expose the racist lies. The following is the text of its election leaflet against racism. In the election campaign, Socialist Action has published leaflets in Tagalog, Urdu and English for minority communities in the area it is contesting (Un Chau and So Uk), getting a very good response.
The truth about right of abode issue
(This is the text of an election leaflet issued by Socialist Action)
- Beware of racism
- Beware of DAB lies!
DAB and other pro-government politicians are making a lot of noise over the ‘right of abode’ issue for migrant domestic workers. This is the latest example of racism, whipped up by some establishment politicians to serve their own ends. We have also seen mainland migrants called “locusts”. Racism is a threat to all working people regardless of nationality – we must unite against it.
The racists want to steer people’s attention away from the real issues and the crimes of this government. The same pro-government politicians who are attacking migrant workers resisted the minimum wage, oppose universal suffrage and worship one-party dictatorship. They’re the same ones who scheme with the tycoons to push up house prices and block the building of more public housing.
The DAB claim unemployment will rise to 10 percent if migrant workers get the right of abode. This is “completely rubbish” to use Henry Tang’s phrase. They also inflate the numbers involved to whip up a sense of crisis, just as Regina Ip did when she made similar unfounded claims against mainland migrants in 2002.
Can these politicians ever be trusted to tell the truth?
Lies about minimum wage
The same pro-government politicians told us the minimum wage would destroy 100,000 jobs. But the minimum wage has since May 2011 led to 45,000 new jobs being created! We have not heard the pro-government side apologize for its shameful scare mongering against the minimum wage.
Lies about unemployment
Unemployment is not caused by low-income workers asking for higher wages. Is it not caused by migrants wanting more legal protection and secure employment. No, it is greedy banks and corporations like HSBC – which just slashed 3,000 Hong Kong jobs. The tycoons and their capitalist system which put profits before people’s needs, they are the cause of unemployment.
Lies about welfare
The DAB weeps crocodile tears that welfare programmes, hospitals and schools will be overburdened if migrants win more rights and equality. But these services are overburdened already! Teachers who want small class teaching to bring Hong Kong into line with other advanced economies are pushed aside by the government – even when it has ample money to meet the teachers’ demands. Hospital doctors complain they need drugs to stay awake due to long work hours and staff shortages, but the government attacks them in the media for complaining.
It is the government, supported by DAB, that has cut spending on schools, privatized hospital services and failed to create a fair pension system. Their policies have created a crisis in public services. Now they want to blame their crime on others!
Socialist Action says: Punish the real criminals – Vote out the DAB and the government side on 6 November!
To get real change, against an increasingly corrupt and completely undemocratic government, working people need a united fight back. The racist and anti-migrant demagogues want to prevent working class struggle, increase repression and preserve dictatorial rule. We won’t allow ourselves to be divided by their lies.
Socialist Action’s candidate Sally Tang Mei-ching fights for:
- Cut politicians salaries – Sally will only accept 1/3 of a district councillor’s salary
- Smash property hegemony – Reduce rents and build 50,000 public housing flats every year.
- More money to public services – schools, hospitals and welfare.
- For a working class party to challenge the tycoons and one-party rule.