Social etiquette a global problem

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 1:50am

In recent years, the negativity between Hong Kong locals and mainlanders has been disheartening. The most discussed issue is the distasteful and unpleasant behaviour of mainlanders when travelling to Hong Kong.

In my honest opinion, I believe these misunderstandings may be explained by the cultural, social and educational differences between Hong Kong and the mainland. In a newspaper a while back, one writer accused Hongkongers of being intolerant towards innocent mainland children who eat, and sometimes urinate, in MTR stations. Instead of blaming a child, the writer said, Hong Kong locals should be forgiving and teach the child that this behaviour is unacceptable.

Undeniably, a child cannot be blamed if he or she has not been enriched with knowledge of social etiquette. However, this responsibility lies with the parents and teachers, and not strangers and bystanders on the street.

This behaviour does not solely exist among mainlanders. I once saw a Hong Kong caregiver guide seven children off a school bus then immediately start jaywalking. A driver honked his horn and motioned at the pedestrian walkway on the other side of the road, but the caregiver barked back, saying she had the right of way because she was with children.

The most astonishing part was when the children imitated her actions. Not only did she use the children as an excuse to evade responsibility, she also misled them into acting inappropriately. This reflects the problems in Hong Kong.

I lived abroad for many years throughout my career, and it is sad to say that this disorderly conduct not only occurs in China, but globally. From my understanding, Chinese nationals are quick to criticise when in fact they lack self-reflection. I am a Hongkonger and my elders are from the mainland. However, the common behaviour of mainlanders in Hong Kong makes me feel extremely helpless.

Barry Chin, Kowloon