It is difficult to know where you draw the line with new public holidays

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am

I refer to the articles and letters in these columns which have discussed whether the last day of Ramadan should be declared a public holiday in Hong Kong.

Well, should it be? And if it is, who will be next, and who next after that?

With a little collective effort we could probably come up with a valid reason for a public holiday on most days of the year.

We could start by giving Friday and Saturday the same status as Sunday, in deference to Muslims and Israelis respectively and everyone would enjoy much more leisure time. Well, almost everyone: we still want television, and cinemas on public holidays.

Oh, and we need transport to get there. And electricity and water come in handy; so do hospitals if you happen to be ill. And we might need the police or the fire services; and we might want to go shopping. Someone has to provide these services.

Perhaps we should take a new look at public holidays and weekends, and what they mean to us. Some holidays have a deep significance for some people, but most of them are another, albeit welcome, day off. Perhaps we should have a greater selection, but limit the number that any individual can claim.

Thus we might find fewer Christians having to work over Christmas and Easter and on Sundays, and fewer Muslims having to work during traditional Muslim festivals and on Fridays, and so on. There would be an added advantage in spreading the visitor numbers at traditionally favourite public holiday venues such as Ocean Park, although this effect, I admit, would be somewhat limited by the difficulty of extending such a flexible approach to schools.

While this idea will take time to have a significant impact, I believe it could, given the will and the constructive effort necessary to make it work, allow many more people the freedom to celebrate those occasions that are significant to them.

The simple fact is that, if public holidays continue to be universal, there must be a limit to their number, and I suggest that the limit has been reached.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung