21 September 2019
Nepali girls (left) perform a dance number as part of a volunteer activity. A Nepali designer (right) fits a traditional dress on a reporter. Photos:, RTHK
Nepali girls (left) perform a dance number as part of a volunteer activity. A Nepali designer (right) fits a traditional dress on a reporter. Photos:, RTHK

Let’s build a Nepal town in Hong Kong

If ethnic minorities like Nepalese want their voices to be heard in Hong Kong, they need to unite and assert themselves.

There are about 195,000 non-Chinese residents in Hong Kong, excluding the foreign domestic helpers, according to the 2011 population census. Non-Chinese Asians number 112,000 while there are about 54,000 whites. The rest are classified as “mixed” or “others”.

There are about 16,000 Nepalese in Hong Kong, 26,000 Indians and 18,000 Pakistanis.

Most Nepalese live in Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Yuen Long, according to a report by the Society for Community Organization, a local non-governmental and human rights advocacy group. Many of them are construction workers and security guards.

It must be admitted that the local Nepalese community is quite small in terms of numbers.

But though we may look insignificant, we have to come together as one. Together, our voices will be loud enough to be heard by those in authority.

We should do it the Chinese way.

You probably know that in many big cities around the world, there are such places called “Chinatown” or “Little India”. They came into existence not by choice but by necessity.

If we want to live a decent and dignified life in a foreign country, we can learn a lot from how the Chinese migrants live in a foreign land.

Their Chinatown looks like a quaint, miniature version of a small town in China. But in essence, it plays a significant role in the lives of people who live there and make a big impact on their livelihood.

Chinatown gives them a sense of security and peace of mind because it is a place they can call home.

More importantly, it gives them a sense of community, an identity because it is a place where their customs and traditions are still observed, a place where their culture endures and flourishes. 

In Chinatown, people can live a dignified life, protected from the biases and hostilities of the outside world.

That’s the reason why Chinatowns have mushroomed all over the world. 

I believe that it is imperative for migrants like us to create such a place in Hong Kong.

If we could build our own Nepal town, we could have a place where we could raise our children, run our own businesses and choose our own leaders. There, our families will live in peace, happiness and dignity.

If we can have our own representatives in the government; we don’t need to rely on others or associate with other political parties as we will have our own people to look after our interests.

However, this is easier said than done. And so far nobody has taken any action to realize this ideal situation.

Most Nepalese here in Hong Kong, including myself, left our country for decades.

But still we believe that as ethnic minorities we will not be able to make any changes in society.

That is not true, of course. We can. 

I sincerely hope the Nepalese community can be united and be able to improve the livelihood of our people in Hong Kong, as well as in our home country.

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Nepalese ladies (left) join a march to promote the rights of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong; a group of Nepalese men form their own band in the city. Photos: Apple Daily

EJ Insight contributor