Re: "City dismisses demand for English on signs," News, March 20.
David Lam immigrated from Hong Kong, made an immense contribution to our province and became our first Lieutenant Governor of Chinese descent.
He never stopped advising immigrants to become Canadian in every way.
I came to Richmond from Holland as a child. My father made sure all of us became Canadian citizens at the first opportunity. He said if you benefit from this country you should contribute as a citizen.
Many years later, while in government, I met the then Dutch Queen Beatrix. Bursting with pride I spoke a few words in Dutch. The Queen immediately pricked my balloon. "When in Canada I never speak Dutch, neither should you! It's disrespectful to those who do not know our language."
Language is powerful. When we receive unsolicited real estate flyers with not a word of English, the message is unmistakable, "You do not matter to us!" When Richmond's commercial district sprouts commercials signs I can't read, the message is unmistakable, "This is not for you, please go elsewhere!" When immigrants speak their language in the presence of others it shows profound disrespect.
City council's decision suggests language does not matter. It does. Language can foster community or apartheid.
Richmond is not building a community it is building a ghetto.
City council's decision sends this message: The non-Chinese minority is not important to us. It is sad. It is wrong. It is un-Canadian. David Lam, the immigrant, was a better Canadian than our current council.