Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s domestic helpers could teach city a thing or two about unity and tolerance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2018, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2018, 6:36pm

Hundreds of domestic workers congregate to create a striking yet temporary transformation of Central every Sunday, with a variety of activities and exchanges on their weekly day off. This well-known spectacle, with the colours and cheer reminiscent of the Philippines, is often acknowledged as Hong Kong’s “Little Manila”.

However, such a temporary but regular gathering is sometimes seen through discriminatory lenses, as an invasion of the systematic order of the central business district by messy crowds.

But the helpers are only trying to fit into Hong Kong as their second home. Although they all understand the cruel reality that they will never truly and completely belong here, they are still showing their individual tenaciousness and national cohesion in this small community.

Foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong deserve a proper place to meet on their days off

They always leave a spacious area free for pedestrians, whether outside City Hall or in Statue Square. Their self-disciplined behaviour is embodied in their civic-minded utilisation of public spaces, without any prior negotiation.

In a packed city like Hong Kong, locals become too sensitive and want to reinforce exclusionary borders by demanding that others move out of sight, to control “parasites” living off the “host society”.

Perhaps we could emulate the helpers’ civilised core values of mutual understanding, respect and assistance.

Although Hong Kong always brands and praises itself as a global city, it is time to ask why our helpers are still seen as undesirable. Is it our internal climate of intolerance and exclusion?

Adrian Lam, Tai Koo