Jasper Tsang, the President of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, has come under fire for a recently published audio clip in which he can be heard repeating a racist joke about Africans. The clip was secretly recorded during a private talk given by Tsang at Hong Kong University’s renowned St. John’s College on November 3, as the Occupy Hong movement was in full-swing.
Hong Kong Free Press obtained the recording from an unidentified student who’d attended the event, called “Universal Suffrage: A Review of the Proposals”. At one point in his speech, Tsang joked about clearing pro-democracy protestors from occupation sites by telling Africans living in Chungking Mansions, popular budget accommodations in Hong Kong, to “go sleep there without paying any rent”.
He later joked that there was “a rather high probability of an epidemic” at the unhygienic protest camps nonetheless. At this time, mind, news of the ebola outbreak was splashed across international headlines.
“I had lunch with a number of my… schoolmates last Friday. One of them is a doctor. And he said ‘I tell you how to get people off the street. There are many Africans staying in Chungking Mansions. You go there. Get half a dozen Africans. Tell them – look, go there. Go to Harcourt Road, you have beautiful tents there, you can go sleep there without paying any rent. Get three meals every day. Free. Tell them to go there,” he said.
After a short pause in which Tsang had been met by silence from the audience, he explained that it was “Just a joke”.
When asked about the comments, Tsang told HKFP that “there was no racism intended in any remark I made on that occasion,” and that the event “was a private party and members of the audience were clearly reminded that there should be no recording.”
Listen to these audio clips:
Tsang was named among the four recipients of the Grand Bauhinia Medal, Hong Kong’s top honor, this year.