HONG KONG, May 20: Amid criticism they faced over the killing of Dil Bahadur Limbu, Hong Kong police has revised its rules to make it easier for minorities to join the force.
From now on, those who have proficiency in languages in addition to Chinese and English will be prioritized for recruitment.
Rights workers fighting for minority rights have welcomed the move as a positive sign.
The new policy will come into effect from Saturday when preliminary selection will be held for a fresh intake of recruits.
According to the new rules, those with proficiency in Nepali, Hindi, Urdu, French, German, Japanese or Korean will receive additional grades.
"We did the reform to better the police service by taking in qualified people," Inspector Francis Cheung, chief of the recruitment department, was quoted as saying by a daily newspaper.
Nepalis and members of other minority groups possessing the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination in Chinese are now eligible to apply for jobs with the police. Those who do not have the certificate, which is equivalent to the SLC, can sit for another exam approved by the government.
"The policy of prioritizing the intake of those proficient in foreign languages has opened the gates for Nepalis youths," said Ek Narayan Sharma, a solicitor.
According to Inspector Cheung, taking in people proficient in foreign languages will make it easier for the police to handle international events such as the Olympics and World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings.
A few years ago, Hong Kong police had a tough time dealing with a protest by Korean farmers during a WTO event.
The revision of recruitment policy by Hong Kong police, which has not taken a single foreigner since the territory was handed over to China in 1997, has come following the killing of Dil Bahadur Limbu by a policeman.
Two years ago, Limbu was shot dead by a Hong Kong policeman. During court proceedings in the case, the policeman testified that prior to the shooting Limbu spoke in Nepali, which he could not understand.
Though the court and a higher court ruled that the killing was lawful, it angered the Nepali and other minority communities. Ever since that indicent, police have been encouraging the participation of Nepalis in informal programs, apparently to win hearts and minds among them.