Last Updated on Monday, 02 March 2009 09:10 Sunday, 01 February 2009 00:00
Kicking-off the Chinese New Year, the Chinese community speak up as a major voice to contend with for upcoming elections. Amongst the celebrations in London Chinatown, many Chinese people got lessons on how to register to vote, with party representatives from Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party schooling the community on the issues.
Holding the ‘Get Active, Get Voting’ campaign, the British Chinese Project help raise political awareness amongst the Chinese, with hundreds of people getting electoral advice, learning how to get registered to vote, and make their voices heard.
Chair of the British Chinese Project, Christine Lee said: “The Chinese New Year is about bringing families and friends together and it was great to see not only the Chinese community - but people from all ethnic and social backgrounds come together in support of greater Chinese integration into politics on such a significant day. Encouraging the Chinese to register to vote and participate in politics is not simply for Chinese people but for society as a whole, and only through increased awareness, participation and support made available to all sections of society can we make the UK the truly multicultural country it deserves to be”.
Deputy Mayor of London, Richard Barnes also spoke out in support of the BC Project this Sunday: “We celebrate diversity in the UK and in London especially benefit from the multicultural contributions made from all communities. There is no doubt that all communities should have a chance to represent their views through the ballot and I am pleased that more Chinese people are taking charge in making positive changes to our society”
With less than 30 per cent of Chinese people registered to vote, incumbent and prospective Chinese politicians rolled out in support of the ‘Get Active Get Voting’ campaign providing positive Chinese role models to their new students of politics. Coaching the Chinese community on how to vote included
• Head of Chinese for Labour Sonny Leong
• Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal Democrats in Hammersmith, Merlene Emerson
• Chit Chong, from the Green Party
• Liberal Democrat Councillor Linda Chung, for Hampstead Town
Representing the Labour Party, Head of Chinese for Labour Sonny Leong says – “Today has been a great start to the Year of the OX, with so many of the Chinese community demonstrating their enthusiasm for greater civic engagement. I hope in 2009, we can provide furthermore Chinese people with the tools to get politically aware and involved in decision-making.”
Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal Democrats in Hammersmith, Merlene Emerson says: “I can’t stress the importance of voting, and the need to bridge government action with society. The Chinese community has an important voice to be heard within Britain, and should no more consider themselves as a separate community.”
Chit Chong, from the Green Party says “At a time of recession it is vitally important that the Chinese get the political representation it needs to make sure that government decisions reflect their needs and opinion, and it is only through voting that we can make sure this happens”
A keen supported of the BC Project is also Ealing Conservative Councillor Edmond Yeo who says: “It is wonderful to see so many young people taking an interest and getting involved in politics. I truly believe that the seeds we plant today will bear fruit for the next generation. A great symbolic start for the Year of the Ox which works hard to toil the land for the benefit of all.”
In tune with the Chinese New Year traditions, politicians from all mainstream parties and the Chinese community demonstrated a united front for greater social and political integration in the UK.
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Notes to the Editor
The BC project is a non-partisan, voluntarily run organisation that seeks to promote the presence of the UK Chinese community in the British political arena. The Chinese community accounts for the third largest immigrant group in the UK, but have no political representation in Parliament. The charity seeks to redress this imbalance through education, representation and participation. For more information see www.bcproject.org.uk
Get Active¸ Get Voting
The Get Active¸ Get Voting campaign is run by BC Project in conjunction with Chinese Youth Radio. The purpose of the campaign is to engage the Chinese community and encourage them to register and actively vote.