Hong Kong As It Is

A city of little freedom

Hong Kong is consistently rated as the freest economy in the world. If you live here long enough, you will know that there is little truth in it. The government controls the land supply and therefore the land price and the property price. Our electricity and supermarket sectors are heavily monopolized. Two chains are able to dominate the whole supermarket sector and not even such international chains as Carrefour or Walmart can enter Hong Kong’s market.

Which is not the only reason why I say Hong Kong is a city of little freedom. See this sign I took in the Choi Sai Woo Park on Hong Kong Island.

You are not supposed to lie on the benches in the park! And if you go to parks in Hong Kong, you will see similar signs. No spitting, No biking, No playing balls……The hand of the government interferes with every aspect of the daily lives of the people here.

By Anna

With a wanderlust and lusts of other sorts, I look to sth new, sth different, sth fulfilling, and find myself on a journey...

7 replies on “A city of little freedom”

Happy New Year, Anna!
Yes, I did read your latest blog entry about complaints.
To be fair, if they don’t listen to complaints, then they will definitely be accused of not listening. But I also agree that some thinking process is required in addition. That, I’m afraid is the hard part. The employee’s attitude may well be to do the minimal work to get by, not to excel. Can’t say that I blame them though: HK is a tough place to live. A new university graduate will not earn enough to survive independently (unless the parents help). Rent/food/transportation costs will eat up idealism very quickly. Sigh.
Sorry, I was just rambling a bit…..

[…] Protesters, unlike protests at anywhere else in the city, are also barred from placing any protest letter on the doors/walls of the Office. Despite the obvious fact that the treatment for the Office is special, the authorities often deny that. They claimed, for instance, the planter was installed purely for the purpose of greening and so far no complaints had been received towards it from the public. So it is justified that it is there. I should really point out that this city’s authorities have one guiding principle in making their decisions – if they receive complaints from the public or not. That is why so many signs of not to do this and not to do that are put up across the city, especially in the park. […]

Jan, I cannot agree more with you on this. A friend of mine works in the leisure and cultural services department, who told me that signs like this are put up because they receive complaints from the public. But shouldn’t those in charge make up their own minds rather than just listening to every complaint?

It is not only the government that has to be blamed for this… Part of this is also the hk public… Which is mainly a complaining public, low tolerance and a bit detached from the real world. Mind you I am not generalizing… But the government is merely responding to the people who complain. The governments general attitude is prevention, if they can prevent an accident from happening from kids playing in the park with their bike, balls, and whatever, they’ll prevent it…
I’m a landscape architect, and sad to say we design places here in hk, with the vision of them being used the same way as they should be in most European or western countries, but here in hk it just never happen… It is a majority issue, if enough people stood up for what they think is right then maybe things can change…
This is just a tip of the iceberg, like there are also issues on protection for bikers/cyclist on the road, or cyclist use of certain nature parks etc. Etc……

peter, thank you sincerely for all your comments. my command of English is not as good as that of Chinese and that may explain why my writing in Chinese is more nuanced. Wishing you a rewarding and joyful year of 2011!

Mea culpa! Having read your Chinese blog on this same topic, where more background details were available, I now understand clearly what triggered your anger over these signs. The English blog does not convey your sentiments nearly as strongly. For example, “Tashi Deleg” was sentimental but powerful prose, neatly encapsulated by “No past, no future, no boundaries”. Not having been to Nepal, nevertheless I did catch the actual feeling. This past year I had meant to visit Lhasa but events got in the way. One day I shall, and hopefully without high altitude sickness. I am hoping to receive an email one day!

Hi Anna
I feel that I have to make some rebuttal comments.
For public places, “No spitting” is something that no one would object to. And I presume, you as well.
“No lying on benches” is applicable under some circumstances: the need to share the bench when busy.
The other no’s are less about curbing our freedom, and more about how to make simple rules for the lowest common denominator. I suppose that freedom is not absolute, but is always relative to others’ rights.
These comments reflect my continual interest in your blog.

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