Mohammad Munir Khan joined the Hong Kong police in 1990 as a probationary inspector, carrying on a family tradition to serve in the force.
A Pakistani, Khan assumed the post of Police Community Relations Officer in 2009, the first ever non-ethnic Chinese to take up the job. He was responsible for community liaison and networking in a bustling downtown district with a swelling population of South Asians, Middle Easterners and Africans.
His 26 years of outstanding performance was recognised as he was promoted to superintendent in 2014, with six Commanding Officer’s Commendations in his career so far.
Today Khan is a superintendent (administration) at the West Kowloon Police Headquarters, having served as an assistant district commander of Yau Tsim (Yau Ma Tei-Tsim Sha Tsui) district for a number of years.
His father Amir Khan was among the first batch of Pakistani officers to join the police in 1952. His elder brother Jawaid Khan became an officer in the Royal Police Force in 1979 and was a chief superintendent before retirement.
“I was brought up in a police family. My father and brother shared their policing experience with me since I was young. I am proud to follow in their footsteps,” Khan said.
Although Khan was brought up in Hong Kong, his schooling did not include Chinese. His father encouraged him to listen and speak Cantonese more as a remedy at an early age.
“I was not proficient in Chinese at the beginning but I try to remember the common Cantonese phrases and idioms in my daily conversations with colleagues. After working in the force for 26 years, my Cantonese may be even better than my mother tongue of Urdu.”
Being fluent in Cantonese, English and Urdu, Khan’s role as a go-between with different ethnic groups is indispensable, and now even more so with the continued inflow of ethnic minorities from different backgrounds into his district, as well as when assisting the second or third generations of migrants.
Khan recalled a case in which an officer had to check a bag of a Muslim but the latter vehemently resisted. Khan tried to mediate and learned that the bag contained religious books and so the Muslim did not want any non-believer to touch them. The case was settled with Khan’s involvement.
Bringing in new blood
As Khan tries to act as a bridge between the police and the non-ethnic Chinese diaspora, he has been spearheading several initiatives to foster interaction and mutual understanding, through guided tours and workshops at the Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre, next door to the Tsim Sha Tsui police station.
He organises Nepalese and Urdu language courses for officers and helps the Police College in planning the first thematic training course on policing in ethnic minority communities.
He also helped set up a Nepalese Task Force in the Yau Ma Tei division to help youths, promote racial inclusion, nurture a sense of belonging, as well as deter crime.
In recent years, Project Gemstone, a comprehensive scheme aimed at enhancing the Chinese proficiency of non-Chinese youngsters in his district to meet the language requirement for joining the police or other government departments, has been Khan’s prime focus.
Every Saturday, Khan leads a professional teacher to conduct tutorial classes for non-Chinese youngsters to improve their proficiency in Chinese. Police volunteers also help as mentors and organise activities to equip those aspiring to join the police through group discussions, role-play and visits to police units.
Since its inception in 2013, the project has nurtured five non-Chinese youngsters to join the police.
It must be heartening for Khan to see the graduation of two young Pakistani recruits, Inspector Abdul Faisal and Police Constable Mohammad Mujeeb, in the passing-out parade in April.
The first non-ethnic Chinese to become a probationary inspector since 1997, Abdul was presented with three awards, namely, the Commissioner’s Certificate of Academic Merit, the Baton of Honour and the Brian Slevin Trophy, in the Police College, rewarded only to all-round PI in each batch of PI graduates during the inspectorate training.
Project Gemstone is also much copied when other police districts launch similar initiatives such as Project Go Front in Yuen Long district to recruit fresh blood from more diversified backgrounds.
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