The Death of LIMBU
Rev. Po Kam-cheong
General Secretary of Hong Kong Christian Council
（This essay is originally in Chinese. Southern Democratic Alliance thanks Hong Kong Christian Council for translate it in English!
James Lung Wai Man 龍緯汶
Chairman, Southern Democratic Alliance
On 18 March, 2009, Hong Kong media reported that a man from Southern Asia was shot dead at Ma Tau Wai Service Reservoir because he was assaulting a police officer. It was suspected that this man was an illegal immigrant. Later, when the actual details were released, it was obvious that the first news reports had been based on assumptions and rumors. First, the deceased was not an illegal immigrant. In fact he was born in Hong Kong and he held a valid Hong Kong Identity Card. He was a Nepalese Hong Kong citizen, named Limbu Dil Bahadur. His wife and 6-year old daughter currently live in Nepal. This husband and father was alone in Hong Kong and not able to find very good employment. Therefore, without a job at the time, he had been wandering around the hillside. Also, after Limbu was shot dead, there was no evidence that he was carrying any weapons on him.
Having read the newspapers in these past few days, I thought if such case had happened in London or New York, it would have become the news headlines on the front page rather than a small item inside the newspaper like we have it here in Hong Kong. The journalists would handle the incident with caution, and they wouldn’t make too many assumptions or create a ‘story’ before knowing the facts. As quite a number of minorities live in international cities, they would certainly highly value harmonious relationship among different races. Therefore, they would be very careful with those issues that might provoke racism.
As for Hong Kong people, they are strongly influenced by the media. They are not aware that they look at other races with a pair of coloured glass, i.e. with bias. They even consider Southern Asians are untrustworthy persons; it is just like a Chinese saying: “Those who are not of our kind must not share our hearts”.
With Limbu’s death, we will probably ask, “Could it have been avoided? If the case was taken care by a police officer who knew the Nepalese language, would it have ended differently?” What about that police office who shot Limbu? What happened to him? Other than pulling the trigger, were there other possible ways to resolve that scene? If the Hong Kong Police Force could have employed more minorities to join as police officers, translators or if they offered more appropriate language training for the existing Chinese police officers, would this kind of tragedy never happen again?
The death of Limbu triggered over 1000 Nepalese to demonstrate on the street, demanding the Hong Kong Government to justly handle the case. They also expressed their accumulated grievances that they have been discriminated against in their daily lives. Those minorities living in the Chinese-dominated society encounter more difficulties in education, medical services and employment than others. They have to pay extra effort to accommodate all the inconveniences. The life of Limbu more or less reflects such fact. If we cannot get on with them in an accepting manner and we always treat them suspiciously; they of course will not have any chance to work to their capacity and their contribution to the society will be lowered. At the end, it will only add to the conflicts among different races.
In Christianity, we believe people are the creation of God, having His image. Every life is equally valuable, no matter what the person’s race, social class or gender.
The Chinese also have a saying: “All men ever born are my brothers”. If we want Hong Kong to become an international city, and to shine continuously in an age of globalization with people from every country coming in and out of the place, we have to equip ourselves with an open mind. We have to have laws to protect the minorities and the love to live together, taking them as members of Hong Kong. They are also contributing themselves to build a prosperous Hong Kong.