Poor service in Hong Kong: a fear of English or just superiority complex? Ask ‘mainlanders’
I am writing in response to Niru Vishwanath’s letter (“What’s behind poor service in Hong Kong?”, July 23) concerning Hongkongers’ poor attitude towards some foreigners. I agree that, as a metropolis, Hong Kong is gradually losing its competitive edge when it comes to courtesy.
Hong Kong is an international city which relies greatly on its tertiary industry. And, when it comes to the services sector, etiquette always comes first. Front desk staff at hotels always try their best to give visitors a friendly welcome and tour guides use an enthusiastic tone to introduce sightseeing spots. Good manners is common sense in the services industry, but Hongkongers seem to underestimate its value.
Ms Vishwanath wrote about her experience at the sport facilities near the Peak Tram station, where she encountered impolite treatment, and wondered whether it had something to do with her race or the language barrier. Of course, Hongkongers can seem stand-offish because of their discomfort with speaking English, despite good education levels overall. We try to shy away from English and refuse to speak it, even being ill-mannered to scare away visitors. However, such behaviour can also be a matter of cultural difference, real or perceived.
Very often, we read of so-called mainlanders violating the rules or social norms in Hong Kong, and of conflicts with locals over this. These reports have led to many people being dismissive of mainland visitors, who have to collectively bear the stigma of being rude and of lacking respect for rules. Local service staff may look down on them thinking Hongkongers are superior.
But is it fair to tar everyone with the same brush? Imagine if somebody from Hong Kong committed a crime in the UK and the British government banned all Hongkongers from entering the country. Wouldn’t we be aggrieved? That’s how mainland visitors are made to feel.
Sonia Yeung, Sha Tin