Sort out this Sunday eyesore

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 August, 1998, 12:00am

The obstruction, overcrowding and mess caused by maids in Central is anti-social behaviour, and if it is not illegal, it certainly should be.

To lay claim to be a modern, civilised, cosmopolitan city, something has to be done by the responsible authorities. From the stunned and bemused comments of tourists, many thought that they had stumbled upon a refugee camp, village market or some dire, emergency situation to cause such a war zone in the city centre.

Regrettably, the maids have a way of staking out their territory and making sure anyone else who is not a maid feels unwelcome.

The authorities should study how other cities deal with overcrowding and public obstruction. I have travelled widely and never yet encountered such a phenomenon.

I have seen police move loiterers on in downtown Manila and put jaywalkers in roadside cages to shame them into safety-consciousness. However, there must be legal, civilised methods to rationalise use of Central's public space which Hong Kong authorities can implement, so that all groups - maids, shoppers, tourists, youth, elderly, courting couples, housewives, stressed executives - can feel enticed to stroll and enjoy the resulting pleasant environment and facilities. Under the present situation, it is effectively out of bounds to all except maids.

With the bird flu, the Chek Lap Kok fiasco, and Sunday shambles in Central, perhaps there is a grand tourism plan by the Government, to turn Hong Kong into a circus, with a city centre unique in the world as a squatter theme park with extension potential into the future Tamar site civic redevelopment.