• Sun
  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 7:02pm
NewsHong Kong

Survey reveals scale of family unfriendly malls

Developers seem to ignore the fact parents shop too, with few facilities for changing or feeding babies. Singapore is showing how it can be done

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 2:34am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 5:01am

The head of the government's Family Council has called for space for children - from nursing rooms to free activity corners - to be made compulsory in Hong Kong's shopping malls after a South China Morning Post survey found parents and children were not being catered for.

Hong Kong is far behind Singapore on the issue, with its rival city preparing to launch a new building code that will require 13 specified family friendly features in new malls.

In the survey, the Post interviewed the operators of 15 large shopping centres to ask whether they provided the facilities that would become compulsory in Singapore next April.

There was a scarcity of nursing rooms, safety seats for babies in toilets and family washrooms - and a lack of signs directing people to such facilities.

"The existing situation is not satisfactory," said the council's new chairman, Daniel Shek Tan-lei. "The Family Council is very concerned."

Shek, a professor specialising in family studies at Polytechnic University, said the city should follow Singapore's lead in making such provisions.

The 15 shopping centres in the survey involve seven developers: Wharf Holdings, Henderson Land, Sun Hung Kai Properties, MTR, Swire and Hysan, as well as The Link Reit, which has taken over Housing Authority malls.

Today, the government is launching its public consultation on population policy, with the city's falling birth rate and lack of incentives to start a family firmly on the agenda.

The survey found 80 per cent of malls did not provide child-protection seats - which allow parents to secure a baby while they go to the toilet. And only two, Sunshine City Plaza in Ma On Shan and Lok Fu Plaza in Kowloon City, offer washrooms for individual families, with facilities open to both men and women with their children.

Child-sized toilets were found in only 10 malls, but only six provided a hand basin that a child can reach.

Despite the government encouraging women to breastfeed rather than use formula milk, 11 malls were equipped with only one to two nursing rooms. Those in APM, in Kwun Tong, are locked and only opened upon request.

Harbour City was the only mall to reserve parking spaces for families and pregnant women. Only three malls offered space for children to play in for free.

Overall, Lok Fu Plaza and Harbour City scored well.

Cheung Kong Properties did not respond to the survey.

Obstetrician Dr Vivian Wong Taam Chi-woon, a former interim chief executive for the Hospital Authority, said provisions were inadequate. "Can you imagine a mother rushing to find a space to nurse her baby without clear signage?"

Singapore's Building and Construction Authority chief executive Dr John Keung said the revised code on accessibility would require all new buildings that are open to the public and those undergoing major renovation to provide a list of 13 family friendly facilities.

He added that nursing rooms should meet food-hygiene standards and would not be allowed in toilets.

As well as malls over 10,000 square metres, the new rules would cover transport interchanges and sports complexes.

Wong said the government should take the lead and developers should be forced to follow.

The Home Affairs Bureau said there were 170 rooms for nursing mothers in government buildings and the number would increase by 50 in the next few years.




This article is now closed to comments

Must be a slow news day.
what do you expect? u hv pussycats as leaders in this town :) never mind the "child/elderly/disabled friendly" for now.. we normally spend like 30 mins to find a public toilet in our malls!!! that's very basic stuff.. in SG they hv like men-and-women toilets in every floor!!! those greedy developers!! should send them to the bottom of the sea!!!
People in general in Hong Kong are not very child/elderly/disabled friendly, the number of times when I'm standing on the bus/mtr and see some elderly/disabled person come on and suddenly all the sitting adults fall asleep, in all honesty, your selfish legs are not going to break if you stand for a bit.
How do you expect shopping malls to be conscious of other people's needs when it is probably the same selfish people who design those malls.
It's unfortunate, but you're right.
Another child/family unfriendly aspect of most shopping malls in HK: non-automatic doors. It takes a herculean effort for a person pushing a stroller to just get into the mall in the first place. This would be a non-issue if only more automatic doors were installed... OR if other people actually stop and take 3 seconds to hold the door open. Good luck with that. In all my years in HK, I’ve NEVER had a local Chinese person willingly hold the door for me. The only Chinese people who have held a door open for me are mall staffs, security guards, and folks who I’ve shamelessly asked to do so.
That is sad as well, I normally hold the door a moment for the one behind me whenever I go through, but I agree, and even more sad is the fact that a lot of the times, when you open the door, people see it as a chance to rush through the door like you're the doorman!
Parents are more likely to go to Starbucks or Pacific Coffee to feed their young ones. I know I did!
The government of HK is just bone-headed. They air commercials to encourage couples to have children. Yet, they do nothing about the lack of kindergarten spots and affordable housing.
They air commercials to promote breast-feeding, yet they do nothing about the lack of facilities.
Next, they’re going to air a commercial aimed at shopping malls requesting family-friendly facilities.
That’s all they know how to do.
Yet another example of how high land prices poison everything.
Finally they discovered how child and family unfriendly this city is. Lets see how fast Asia'a World City reacts and turns around. It is really a shame for HK and its people that the situation is like this. It shows once more that thise place is driven by money only...


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