More than 10 local organisations held a protest at noon on Tuesday at the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) offices condemning the Oriental Daily for publishing a column which contained a sexist smear against Sally Tang Mei-ching, a pro-refugee advocate who is the chairwoman of activist group Socialist Action.

“Miss Sally Tang Mei Ching should not go out at night, or else – if she bumps into South Asian fake refugees who want to French kiss or more – she will not know how to respond,” a column in the newspaper called “Gongfu tea” stated on May 1. “Of course, seeing that Miss Tang has such a loving heart and is so nice to fake refugees, I think she will agree to the refugees’ requests, or even enjoy it.”

Protest against Oriental Daily
Protest against Oriental Daily. Photo: Socialist Action.

The organisations, including Slutwalk Hong Kong and Refugee Union Hong Kong, demanded that the EOC deal with the matter and said that the Oriental Daily editor responsible for publishing the column should be fired. They handed a letter to EOC chief Alfred Chan Cheung-ming.

A press release published signed by the organisations said: “‘[The Oriental Daily] paints South Asians as criminals, but there are no real numbers. Even the police said that in Yuen Long, most robbery crimes were not committed by South Asians, and in Tsuen Wan there was only one robbery case last year.”

Protest against Oriental Daily
Protesters holding an upside down logo for Oriental Daily, crossed out with a red marker.

Socialists Action and Refugee Union were among the organisations that joined a protest calling for the media and government to stop “smearing” refugees on April 30. The Oriental Daily column was published the day after.

Tensions surrounding the topic of refugees in Hong Kong have risen as pro-establishment politicians followed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s cue in suggesting policies to tackle Hong Kong’s alleged “fake” refugee problem. Lawmaker Regina Ip, of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party, suggested that refugees be sent to closed camps, while the DAB party put up a banner in Tsim Sha Tsui calling for “fake” refugees to be put in camps and deported.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.