No need for shouting at your own people

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 January, 2012, 12:00am

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With animosity like this, we don't need racism. We used to despise mainlanders because they were poor country bumpkins. Now we hate them because they are too rich. Pregnant mainlanders take up all the beds in local maternity wards; mainland speculators push up property prices, making homes unaffordable for locals.

On the mainland side, we used to be seen as colonised stooges and gweilo-wannabes. Now we are ingrates who don't realise that our whole city is being kept afloat by preferential treatment from a generous Beijing.

All this ill-feeling has been exposed in a widely circulated video clip of a quarrel between Hong Kong and mainland passengers on an MTR train. It is just the latest instance of our mutual disregard.

The YouTube video records a war of words between two groups after several angry Hongkongers tried to stop a young mainland girl eating on the train. Her mother at first refused to apologise, and several mainland visitors defended them. Someone pressed the emergency button and the girl's mother finally said 'sorry' in English. Someone mocked her English, sparking another row. It was an ugly picture, putting everyone in a bad light. But the supercilious tone of the Hongkongers was even more off-putting. The clip has sparked widespread online debate on the mainland. A prominent leftist professor has denounced the Hongkongers as 'dogs'. It was a reference to our superiority complex of being able to speak English when we should all be speaking Putonghua.

Let's step back and look at the big picture. We got lucky; our reunification has made both sides richer. Think what the west Germans have had to sacrifice to take in their eastern brothers, and what South Koreans will have to face if the North caves in. Next time you want to shout at a brother from the north, give him a hug instead.