If you only get your news stories from local social media, you may think Hong Kong is about to be flooded in mainland urine.
These sites are filled with accounts of mainland visitors' misbehaviour, the most provocative of which must be their supposedly carefree way of answering the call of nature in public. The latest spark to an escalating toilet war stemmed from a fight in Mong Kok between a mainland couple and several locals who filmed their child relieving himself. The clips went viral on the internet, being viewed more than a million times. Even the state-owned People's Daily weighed in.
A campaign has been launched on the mainland urging parents to let their children urinate on our streets. A Hong Kong counter-campaign asks people to film and document such misbehaviour. It would be comical if it was not so tragic.
Are mainlanders the only ones incapable of finding or using public toilets?
In Hong Kong, I have seen that type of behaviour from any number of visually identifiable groups - local Chinese, expatriates, foreign (non-mainland) visitors, taxi drivers, teenage schoolboys, fathers and sons, and yes, fellow journalists. I have seen it at the Sevens and in the Wan Chai bar district.
Just last year, I witnessed a young man unzipping himself on Leighton Road, near my office, during the evening rush hour and releasing a long stream in front of dozens of horrified and disgusted people. I was sure his first language was neither Cantonese nor Putonghua.
Such behaviour can get you arrested in Hong Kong and you would not just face a fixed penalty. If someone breaks the law, he or she should pay for it. The police should make an example of those guilty of such misbehaviour, regardless of their race, ethnicity or any other identifiable physical attributes.
Yes, there is a lot of anger and frustration over the way mainland tourists have flooded into Hong Kong, overwhelmed our facilities and distorted our economy. A strong case can be, and has been, made to control the number of visitors. That is a valid concern. But try not to demonise some people with behaviour that everyone else is guilty of at one time or another.