It is a characteristic human trait to indulge in lurid speculation about other people's sex lives. Those of us who were students in the 1960s were exposed to a great deal of this. The man in the street was convinced that British universities were seething hotbeds of, well, hot beds. And nothing would convince him that it was otherwise. It was useless to point out that rumours of drug-fuelled orgies were grossly exaggerated. The stories were more entertaining than the truth. It is a characteristic of these urban legends that they are unsubstantiated, and indeed, often uncheckable. They are, on the other hand, compulsively interesting. So I have been following closely a succession of letters to the editor of the South China Morning Post, all from that doughty pen-pusher Name and Address Supplied, on the subject of Filipino women resident in Hong Kong. NAS Mark I complained that the immigration laws were being flouted by women who came to Hong Kong on employment contracts but 'worked' as mistresses or wives. This was unfair to Chinese mistresses, who had to stay in Shenzhen. The result, announced NAS omnisciently, was large numbers of illegitimate and mixed-race children. NAS Mark II went further, claiming to have spotted large numbers of mixed-race children in the territory, and complaining that 'Chinese women married to Hong Kong men are not allowed in the territory, but surely there are not as many of them as there are Filipino domestics who have become mistresses of Hong Kong residents'. How this interesting calculation was assembled we were not told. It is hard to see how it can be the case, because the last time I saw the figures Chinese women waiting to join their husbands in the territory outnumbered Hong Kong's Filipino population. At this point, NAS Mark II lurched further into racism. Earlier in the letter we were treated to 'expatriate and local men forming liaisons with Filipino domestics', but when it came to explanations the local men mysteriously disappeared. We were offered the ability of Filipinas to speak English, and the 'notion which many Western men have to the exotic and docile Asian woman - which most Filipinas are, compared to the pragmatic, hard-nosed Chinese women'. How does this poisonous nonsense start? Consider this for a moment: suppose you meet a Filipino woman with a man, obviously not Filipino and apparently her husband. Do you ask him if he is married to someone else? Or do you ask her if she is here on a work visa? You don't know. Conversely, let us say we encounter a Filipino woman in circumstances which leave little doubt that she is, in fact, a domestic helper. Do we - however irresistible the speculation may seem to be - ask her if she sleeps with the boss? I do not suggest that this never happens. We know that such things occur because the ensuing disputes occasionally crop up in court. The errant employers seem to come from a variety of backgrounds, and the problem seems to lie neither in linguistics nor in Western illusions about Asian ladies, but in the predictable consequences of having nubile young women residing in the domestic premises of mature but still interested men. It is not surprising that the Immigration Department is 'turning a blind eye to this whole issue' because it appears to be the result of over-heated imaginations and suppressed anxiety about the reliability of local husbands. There is no evidence whatsoever that there is a substantial problem, or indeed any problem at all. Years ago, I had a colleague who shared his flat with a Filipino woman. I am not sure who was supposedly employing her. In due course they married, amid much worldly speculation from the more cynical people in the office about the motives of the couple. When they left for England seven years and two children later they were still happily married and as far as I know they still are. Of course, the ways of love are unfathomable and people - even pragmatic, hard-nosed people - sometimes get married for funny reasons. But that is not what is bothering Name and Address Supplied. I believe our letter writers simply cannot accept that a person might for ordinary, respectable reasons wish to marry - or for that matter take as a mistress - a person of another race. It is proper that people should be able to write whatever they like to the editors of newspapers. It is a pity that this provides the opportunity for racist rubbish to be exhibited in public.