Pampering and protests on Mother's Day

While some mums spend a happy time sharing meals with their families, others take to the streets to demand better services and equal treatment

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 May, 2013, 8:27am

"The most important thing on Mother's Day is to be good and listen to your mum. Every day should be Mother's Day," said 16-year-old Amy Wong Tsz-ching, who woke up extra early yesterday morning to visit a Chinese restaurant for yum cha with her mother and grandma.

"Grandma and mum like yum cha. On Mother's Day we do things their way," her sister Jessica Wong Tsz-wing, 14, said.

The three generations of the family arrived early at Fung Shing Restaurant in North Point. The tables soon filled up; the restaurant was fully booked for lunch and dinner as well.

"I want to thank my mum for bearing with my bad habits and bad temper all these years. When I'm down she encourages me," said Amy Wong, as she asked her sister to cover their mother's ears, as she was embarrassed to say it in front of her. "When we were small, we used to make Mother's Day cards for mum. Now it seems it's not enough, so we are good to her on other days, too."

While most Chinese restaurants were crammed with families out to celebrate Mothers' Day, other groups took advantage of the day to air their grievances.

They marched to the government's headquarters in Admiralty to fight for various rights - from public maternity services to better childcare.

The Mainland-Hong Kong Families Rights Association urged the government to grant the mainland wives of Hongkongers the right to use obstetrics services in public hospitals.

All mainland women are banned from booking obstetrics services in public hospitals this year. Those married to Hongkongers can use private hospitals, which are more expensive.

"This policy is unfair to us. We work in Hong Kong, we pay taxes here, so why can't our babies use the health service?" said Foo Wai-leung, one of the protesters. He joined the march with his wife, Cynthia Du Jinxia from Dongguan , and their two daughters aged two years and six months old.

Though their two children were not affected by the recent policy, Du said they were hoping for fair treatment for Hong Kong-mainland families.

Association organiser Tsang Koon-wing said government figures showed there should be enough beds in public hospitals to accommodate the mainland wives of Hongkongers.

Public hospitals had the capacity to handle 43,000 to 45,000 births per year, the data showed. Local women gave birth to about 30,000 babies, and the figure for mainland women with Hong Kong partners was, on average, 6,000 a year in the past few years.

Another group of families marched to call for more childcare services. The mothers, many from low-income families, complained of a lack of services in their neighbourhoods.

They hoped that the availability of more childcare places would free up mothers so they could work and help relieve the pressure on their families' finances.

A group of single mainland mothers whose young children are Hong Kong residents did not march, but called on the government to grant them permanent residency. They are either widowed or divorced from their local husbands, so they do not have permanent residency.

They have to travel back to their mainland hometowns once every few months to renew their permits to stay in the city. During these trips, they have to take their children with them or leave them behind.

The Society for Community Organisation estimates that there are about 5,000 of these mothers in Hong Kong.