When Malaysia-born Harinder Veriah first arrived in Hong Kong to work with a leading British law firm she seemed to have all the qualifications to ensure years of success in this supposedly internationally minded and business-oriented city. Unlike most of the overseas professionals Hong Kong is keen to attract, she had the added advantage of speaking Cantonese, as well as flawless English, which remains the language of the law in Hong Kong.

But Ms. Veriah’s skin color was quite dark. And though both she and her husband, Martin Jacques, a well known British journalist and writer, had lived in London where racism is often close to the surface society, Ms. Veriah found in Hong Kong a new and more pernicious form of racial prejudice — one Mr. Jacques believes finally cost her her life a little more than a year ago.

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