Paranoia over status of square Filipinos

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 November, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 1995, 12:00am

K M SHEN'S letter ' 'Questionable' Filipinos' (South China Morning Post, November 22) appears to be affected by a serious dose of paranoia in his targeting of Filipinos 'loitering' in Statue Square of an evening.

He is troubled by their status. Bona fide maids, he argues, should not be allowed out at that time of the evening as they should be embroiled in an orgy of domestic labour, presumably while the employer and spouse put their feet up after a hard day.

Might it not just be possible that in households in which both partners work they might relish a couple of hours of undiluted time with their children when they return home in the evening and send the maid out during that time? As to the unlikelihood of the night-shift workers being unable to congregate between five and eight, may I suggest a walk down Lockhart Road between those hours will show that the place does not really come to life until about 7pm.

With the dedication of a true believer however, K M Shen comes to an 'inevitable' conclusion: the evening population of Statue Square is composed of 'illegal itinerant workers and those of questionable work status who shelter under the umbrella of laxity of our foreign domestic workers' scheme'.

If I was an illegal itinerant worker, I would tend to remain in the background. I would be pretty stupid if I congregated in a public place with all my fellow illegals, more or less daring Immigration or police officers to discover my status. And what of these unfortunate individuals who K M Shen casts into the limbo of being of 'questionable work status'? Who are these lost souls and what have they done or failed to do to attain this damning sobriquet? If Statue Square was indeed host every evening to huge gatherings of illegal aliens, one might reasonably assume the authorities would have had wind of it and acted accordingly unless, of course, we are about to enter the realm of conspiracy theories.

It is hard to avoid the feeling that K M Shen's outrage is based on nothing more than racial bias. Hong Kong laws allow people to gather in public places whenever they so wish, regardless of race, colour or creed and long may it remain so.