CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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When is a diplomat not meddling in internal affairs?

HONG KONG (SE): When a consul general to Hong Kong from the United States of America or Britain makes a comment about social or political issues in the special administrative region, they are usually told to butt out and stop interfering in the internal affairs of an independent territory.

However, it seems that it may vary, depending on what is said and who wants to hear it.

When the consul general from Nepal, Baliram Prasad Dhami, came out in support of a suggestion from executive councillor, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, to set up a refugee detention centre in Guangdong, his comment passed without official whimper.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the overtly pro-Beijing member of the Legislative Council, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, on April 14, Dhami said asylum seekers could be put in a detention centre so that they could have bad experiences and learn that life is not how they expect it to be.

Only about three per cent of the city’s asylum seekers come from Nepal, as the number has dropped off considerably since the civil war ended in 2006.

However, human rights organisations say that the war did not solve any of the political problems that plague the landlocked country and injustice is still as rampant as it always was.

Dhami said that the presence of Nepali asylum claimants makes life difficult for others from his country living in the city, but representatives from the Hong Kong Nepalese Federation said they have nothing to do with the discrimination that their people face.

Fermi Wong Wai-fun, an advocate for minority groups, was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying, “This is utterly contrary to human rights protection.”

Wong accused Leung of manipulating a vulnerable group simply to promote her campaign in the upcoming election.

The chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, rejected the idea, but commented that refugees are a source of distress in the city.

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