Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Letters to the editor

A reader asks: "what's with all the 'letters to editors?'  Don't you get any published?".  Well, yes, over the years, rate of publication to the local press, South China Morning Post is almost 100%.   As long as I write about local issues.  If the topic is Islam, then there's no way they print, no matter how muted or fact-based the comment.  Today the SCMP prints one of mine, following a recent series of letters questioning the place of English in Hong Kong (links in the letter sent here):

Victor Ho, a visitor to Hong Kong from the United States, says "In the US highly qualified Asian executives are never promoted beyond middle management" ("Differing views on the importance of English in Hong Kong", August 8).

That is incorrect. In the list of Fortune 500 companies I counted 16 Asian CEOs, 3.2 per cent of the total. The Asian population of the US is about 4.4 per cent, so there is a slight under-representation, but hardly the glass ceiling of which Mr Ho complains. And it is simply not true that Asians are "never promoted".

Ho says the rationale for the glass ceiling is because Asians are soft spoken.

If a non-Asian made that claim it would rightly be judged an ignorant stereotype. It is equally ignorant coming from a US-based Asian. Mr Ho has clearly never been to a Hong Kong restaurant at festival time.

His muddled thinking somehow leads him to the conclusion that English is not important [in Hong Kong].

True, it may not be the only, or even the major, reason for Hong Kong's success. But is one of our unique selling propositions. It is one that our motherland is eagerly embracing. Why would we want to ditch it?