• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 2:01pm
NewsChina Insider
TOURISM

Hongkongers clash with mainland parents after toddler urinates in Mong Kok street

Couple arrested on suspicion of theft and assault

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2014, 5:41pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2014, 10:34am

A dispute between mainland Chinese tourists and locals over a toddler urinating in a Hong Kong street has once again become a flash point in already tense cross-border relations. 

This time, the dispute ended in a scuffle that led to the arrest of a mainland couple, the parents of the toddler, and a massive online uproar in both Hong Kong and the mainland. 

Several video clips that have been widely circulated online did not capture the scenes of the toddler urinating, but show the young couple, carrying their two-year old boy, locked in a fierce quarrel with two local Hong Kong young men, as one of whom took photos of the scene at Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok.

Watch one of the video clips:

During the scuffle the couple snatched the memory card from the young man’s camera and tried to leave the scene. The young men stopped them from leaving and called the police.

Surrounded by onlookers on the street, the woman desperately explained to the crowd that they had found a public toilet but saw there was a long queue, so had no other choice but to let their child to relieve himself on the street instead.

“The kid was going to pee in his pants, what do you want me do?” the mother asked the young men. Her enraged husband repeatedly asked the two men: “Do you have a kid? Do your children take pees?”

The two men held onto the pram to stop the couple from leaving, prompting the woman to hit one of the men on his arm. The video clips ended when a police officer arrived at the scene.

The husband and wife, both two-way permit holders, were subsequently arrested on suspicion of theft and assault respectively during the incident, a spokeswoman for Hong Kong police told the South China Morning Post on Tuesday.

She added the woman was later released on bail and was due to report back to police in mid-May for a pending investigation, while her husband was released unconditionally.

The incident occurred last Tuesday but the video clips only drew public attention over the weekend, immediately going viral on mainland social media sites.

Numerous mainland media agencies reposted the news on their official accounts of China’s most popular social media platform Weibo, drawing more than a million comments or reposts by Wenesday.

Online reactions were very much polarised. The majority of online users in mainland China say they found the parents’ behaviour understandable as they had tried to find a toilet for their child.

“How many toddlers can hold on long enough when they want to relieve themselves?” said a commentator, who asked critics to show more tolerance of the parents.

Some pointed to a photo of the child relieving himself at the scene, which appeared to show the mother using a paper nappy to catch the urine, rather than simply allowing the toddler to relieve himself on the ground.

Other online users took a step further and condemned critics of the parents for “taking the moral high ground,” adding that their expectation of tourists unfamiliar with the city to find a public toilet in a short space of time was over the top.

A number of others even questioned if the photographers could be accused of taking indecent pictures of a young child.

But still many blasted the parents for their lack of basic public decency.

“This is such a humiliating act of mainland tourists in Hong Kong,” one comment read. Several others posted photos of mainland parents letting their children relieve themselves in public from other occasions.

Others blamed the parents for not taking enough precautions when taking their toddler out onto the street, saying that being unable to find a toilet was not a legitimate excuse.

According to the Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisances Regulation: “No person having the care or custody of any child under 12 years of age shall permit, without reasonable cause, the child to obey the call of nature in any public street.” Subjects found violating the regulation could face a fine of at least HK$2,000.

But those defending the parents said that trying but being unable to locate a public bathroom could be considered a reasonable justification in this case.

The latest row underlines mounting tensions between Hongkongers and mainlanders which has given way to simmering anti-mainland sentiment in Hong Kong.

While some Hong Kong residents have labelled mainland tourists as having “uncivilised behaviour”, mainlanders have in turn accused Hongkongers of being “discriminating” and “patronising”.

In the past months the city has seen several anti-mainlander protests held in crowded shopping spots such as Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui, both of which are often flocked to by mainland tourists and shoppers.

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This article is now closed to comments

brahardja
Police should fine the parents to set an example for the public (all tourists and locals alike). Anyone that's been through Mongkok, Tst, Causeway Bay should have no problem locating a restaurant, hotel or mall to go to the toilet. I have a three year old, and we always ask her to go to the toilet before we leave home, and whenever we are leaving a place with a bathroom (after finishing a meal, walking in a mall, etc) If the kid cannot hold for 15-20mins, then he or she should definitely wear a diaper while going out.
ray1974
The government should also take some flak, Hong Kong was already crowded and finding a toilet was no easy task before the mainland visitors came. Clearly no planning was done in regard of facilities. Economic gain again leads the way before everything else.
Secondly, mainland visitors should adjust when they are going abroad, not the other way around.
liu.jamez@gmail.com
EVEN if there was no restaurants around, buying a bottle could have worked. Urinating is public is totally unacceptable.
chanaa
if the queue is long, just ask them if its ok to cut the line as its an ' emergency '. I would assume most ' civilised ' hkers would understand a child just cannot hold.
Yingnam Fong
All are ugly behavior! The Hong Kong people should be urged to help the mainlanders instead of shooting the video to embarrass them. There is something really wrong in the mindset of the local people to treat the visitors that way. The authority should look into the matter to see if more help can be provided to reduce undue conflict of this nature. I recall that the local people did the same decades ago and no one cared! What is the big deal now? I think it is the culture only is to blame!
hkfirst
As a parent, I can sympathize with having difficulty finding a public washroom in Hong Kong, but I have never had to resort to having my kids defecate in the public. They are in the middle of Mongkok, one of the busiest places on earth! They could have just gone to a fast food restaurant or hotel. Respect the local laws.
hm03
What? How do you even know that the kid's parent actually tried to look for a toilet? How do you know that no one actually let the kid through? If people denied the kid to jump the queue, I am sure the couple would have said it to justify their actions admist the heated argument, which they didn't.
And saying that, I don't think Thais particularly have a great affinity to mainland tourists as well. There was an article on the SCMP just a few days ago on it.
johndoe
It is not an ethnicity issue, it is a manner and lack of culture issue.
sethi.chandan@gmail.com
Real development means how you treat fellow human beings, not by malls or bridges. We in HK have a responsibility to lead by example and we should. It is a sorry state if 'civilized' behavior where we can wait for 16 hrs to see Korean idols but can not find time to tell parents of a young child to find a nearest toilet. Hope we all learn to be more humane.
5357182e-d624-4d5b-8626-35060a320969
Don't know why Hong Kong people make kid's pee so big!! The problem is no any kind-heart Hong Kong people let the poor kid pass the queue to pee in the toilet.
Instead of helping tourist, Hong Kong people choose to humiliate them!!?? This is what I didn't expect from the so called civilized people. I'm from Thailand and this make me think twice if I should have some holidays in HOng Kong with my kid. People is so indifferent.

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