In a statement obtained by the Apple Daily & SCMP, the publishers claimed the textbooks’ theme was “racial harmony” and that the examples were relevant: “If anyone suspects the textbook is discriminating against Filipinos, it would only be the individual’s personal view.”
A later response to enquires by Hong Wrong was more considered, though the publishers declined to answer questions or apologise. They said they took concerns ‘to heart’ and promised to “consult different ethnic groups”…
The story has been featured on the Huffington Post, Washington Post, TVB News, SCMP, Manila Bulletin, Shanghaiist and others. The Al-Jazeera English 24-hr news channel will host a live 25-minute debate on Thursday about the textbook fallout and racism in Hong Kong, whilst blogger ‘Hemlock’ denounced the “almost laughable obliviousness” of the “all-Canto cave”.
Meanwhile, in Manila, the Philippines Human Rights Commission has called upon the Hong Kong government to rectify the situation “as soon as possible“. Attorney Marc Titus Cebreros said, “(We) call upon the Education authority in Hong Kong to rectify this unscholarly, insensitive and grossly discriminatory way of defining Filipinos”. Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission responded by saying that “ethnic stereotypes must be viewed with caution”.
At the time of writing, the original blog post had received over 200,000 unique visitors from around the world. Condemnation was near universal, yet the publisher appears deaf to public opinion, dismissing criticism and declining to withdraw the offensive titles.