As a large urban metropolis, Hong Kong is filled with taxi cabs that cater to its large population. All taxicab drivers have been native Chinese speakers or people from Hong Kong until now. Shehzad Mamood Khan has become the first non-native taxi cab driver. Of the eight non-natives who took Hong Kong’s taxi cab exam, he was the only one to pass.
Originally from Pakistan, Khan is a full-time construction worker who chose to become a taxicab driver to better support his family of six. He thought that gaining a Hong Kong driver’s license would diversify his job opportunities. The biggest hurdles for many non-natives include the limited access to English study guides. Also, many classes are only conducted in Cantonese and materials are in Chinese. Fortunately, Khan is fluent in Cantonese.
Regardless of nationality, the test is hard for the majority of the people who take it. The written test consists of 20 questions on taxi driving regulations, 20 questions on Hong Kong locations, and 100 questions on general traffic regulations. Missing more than two questions on the first two parts and more than five on the third part leads to disqualification. Most people have to take the test multiple times before they can successfully pass.
Wayne Wu Ho-yan, the head of Hong Kong Christian Services center for ethnic minority residents, believes that the government should expand its language support for ethnic minorities. He thinks that such an action could help minorities’ career paths and mitigate Hong Kong’s human resource shortage.