Monday, 7 July 2014

Favabean: "New Immigrants Are Hongkongers Too?"

"New Immigrants Are Hongkongers Too?"
Translated by Jonathan Ip, Edited by Chen-t'ang, Written by Fava Bean
Original: http://www.vjmedia.com.hk/articles/2013/12/19/57439 

林鴻達攝
(Photo: Jacky HT Lim)
“The new immigrants are equally Hongkongers also, why must we distinguish new immigrants and non-new immigrants for everything?” This is exactly the crux of the debate over the new immigrants’ qualification to obtain CSSA upon their 1-year arrival – the issue of Hongkongers’ ethnic identity. What matters is neither economic costs, social contribution, potential consequences nor the number of years the new immigrants have stayed here. I will try to articulate why the HK Government has the moral obligation to give priority to the interests of the “Original Hongkongers” (whose parents are Hongkongers and who are are born in HK; well, I [Fava Bean] ain't though), and why it is a supererogation, instead of a moral obligation, to offer new immigrants welfare.

1. Define “What are Hongkongers”: what we call “group” is by its definition exclusive. It does not mean to unreasonably being hostile to newcomers from outside, nor does it mean to reject the newcomers from outside to be assimilated and to be parts of that group. It means that when a newcomer who has not been assimilated yet is so fresh, most of the members of the group would realize that this newcomer does not share the common characteristics found among the members. Putting it simply, it means coteries in social relations. As to the criteria defining the membership of a group, of course it is decided by the original members. This is not populism, but manipulating this exclusive character to blindly attack newcomers is. If there is someone, in the name of morality, defines the ethnic identity for all the people without paying regard to the majority opinion, this person is crossing the line by wrongly doing the task for the rest of the group.

Supposedly immigrants should be able to blend themselves into the local community, and the reason why they find it so hard to do so is due to the absence of the approval authority in the government's hands and insufficient support for the new immigrants. Even though they have committed no wrong, you can’t force Hongkongers to accept that they are locals too just because they have done nothing wrong. Such forced acceptance will only reinforce Hongkongers’ antipathy toward the newcomers.

Welfare, by its definition, is reserved for the members of a group only. Assume that the Engineering Society is distributing welfare packs to Nursing students, neglecting the fact that quite a few members of the Society cannot get the packs, the Society is definitely going to be blamed. Groups, of course, may distribute resources for outsiders, but that is charity, not welfare.

* Although I do not support to allow the new immigrants to obtain welfare, I agree that the government should put more money in facilitating the new immigrants to blend into the local community.


The Hong Kong Government’s moral obligation toward “Original Hongkongers”: a child born in Hong Kong, indeed has never chosen to be here; his or her parents did not have a choice too, unless they had the bucks to give birth to him or her in other countries. The HK Governments actually has the moral obligation to take care of their misfortune. But a new immigrant chooses to come here by himself or herself, and the parents of an anchor baby (Editor's note: 雙非兒童) chose to give birth here in HK by themselves as well. Adults should be responsible for their own choices, and the new immigrants should have planned their lives and finance before they migrated, as it is very irresponsible to make other pay for their bad planning. Admittedly, if the new immigrants suffer from difficult livelihood, the government should, on a humanitarian basis offer assistance – the Social Welfare Department used to have the discretion to offer CSSA to new immigrants who have not been here for 7 years.

However, I must emphasise that such assistance is only based on humanitarian concern instead of any moral obligation. Legalising such supererogation and make all the Hongkongers to pay for such supererogation is undoubtedly being generous at others’ expenses.

*Therefore I support new immigrants under the age of 18 to get financial assistance unreservedly, as they did not have a choice to come to HK.

Some say that “family reunification” is a fundamental human right, but to what I have learned, the mainland government does not restrict Hongkongers from immigrating into China, so that the HK-China families can choose to reunify in Hong Kong or in mainland. As stated above, adults should be responsible for their choices, and I will not repeat again here.

But, well, according to Cosmopolitanism, the right of family reunification is outweighed by the right of survival of obtaining food and water, indeed the government should really cancel all welfare which has nothing to do with survival, and donate the saved resources to those starving people (Alright I am joking).

After all, the two most important issues are still to get back the approval authority and reinforce support to the new immigrants. As they have been explained by so many people, I would save my breath here.

1 comment:

  1. Hey I am the author. I apologize if I sound cocky. The original Chinese version is not that cocky I guess. Too different the 2 languages that a sentence in Chinese and English may carry similar meanings but absolutely different tones

    ReplyDelete