Pi maids trading

EVERY Sunday and public holiday the fountain in Statue Square becomes the domain of a small, roaming group of photographers, snapping shots of Filipino maids.

The men can make hundreds of dollars on a sunny day. The mood is usually festive. But yesterday the handful of photographers staking out the pitch were nervous.

''You know the police have become much more active,'' one said, glancing sideways. ''Last Friday they arrested a photographer and confiscated all of his equipment.

''Sometimes they arrest us but that was the first time they've taken all the equipment away.'' He said that to take pictures commercially a permit was needed, but he only took photos of his friends ''as a favour''.

The arrest was part of the crackdown over the holiday on illegal hawking. Seventy-six people were arrested, the majority from the Philippines and Pakistan.