Archive for October, 2009

  • POLITICS – HK Time Out Magazine – Column #14

    Date: 2009.10.31 | Category: Politics: All Posts | Response: 0

    I’m currently contributing a short, light-hearted political column to Hong Kong Time Out Magazine. Below is the uncut, original version of my latest piece…

    Petty politics
    The pro-Beijing DAB may dominate LEGCO seats but their recent behaviour suggests they might be a couple of roast ducks short of a buffet. This summer, they called a press conference to reveal local up-skirt exposure black spots. This highly comprehensive list, which pinpointed public places whereby Peeping Toms can spy on women, happened to double splendidly as a list of public places for Peeping Toms to spy on women. Perhaps we should also expect a handy list of dodgy websites we definitely shouldn’t visit?

    Weeks later, they presented an urgent warning for HongKongers to avoid squirting their McDonald’s ketchup onto the paper tray cover for fear of ink poisoning. Doctors agreed that there are more pressing dangers associated with fast ‘food’, but the irony was obviously lost on the DAB who felt it warranted another press conference. Health worries over lethal paper-ketchup proximity in McDonald’s is the equivalent of suggesting a diet coke to go with that Double Big Mac meal. Incidentally, this was preceded by a survey of ‘hygiene blackspots’, cementing their reputation as the official OCD political party.

    Are their meetings so boring, or our society so flawlessly perfect, that these obscure issues are a priority? If the party is concerned with women’s bodies, how about a crackdown on dodgy slimming schools and promotions? If they’re worried about public health, push to overhaul healthcare or suggest fast-food restaurants stop opening around schools or advertising to children (as several other countries have done).

    How about fighting poverty, pollution or expensive, futile building projects? The DAB’s penchant for promoting pointless policies, wasting time and resources, highlights the disconnect between the ruling elite and regular citizens. It is our lack of real progress on the big issues this decade that justifies the desire for true democracy sooner rather than later!

    Time Out Column - 28.10.09

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  • POLITICS – HK Time Out Magazine – Column #13

    Date: 2009.10.14 | Category: Politics: All Posts | Response: 0

    I’m currently contributing a short, light-hearted political column to Hong Kong Time Out Magazine. Below is the uncut, original version of my latest piece…

    Maid in the Mainland
    Was I right to feel like some idle, neo-colonial taskmaster in hiring a domestic helper for a day, or was I just being a wet hippy? Despite being wrought with guilt after asking a friend’s maid to tackle my grimy kitchen, the penny dropped when she repeatedly thanked me for the extra work. Somehow, I only then realised that migrant domestic workers wanted to be employed, and employers wanted to employ them – something I was blinded to amidst the politics.

    Recent visits to Jakarta and Manila gave me an insight into where these workers were coming from, and where their remittances were ending up. These women have, in fact, carved a route out of hardship and are the saviours of HK’s middle classes, who often rely on them to help juggle the city’s insane working culture with raising a family.

    Despite this, the plight of our foreign domestic helpers remains a just cause – their wage packet ($3580) has barely risen since the 90s, whilst a quarter are said to have suffered mistreatment. The government’s ‘2 week law’ – condemned by the UN – traps employees in exploitative situations by forcing out-of-work maids to find a new job within a fortnight. HK’s 260,000 maids are also exempt from ever gaining residency.

    As discussion over mainland maids returns, the heightened competition is likely to push pay and conditions further down. Meanwhile, unions protest tirelessly for improvements but can expect little from the new city-wide minimum wage legislation. The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants wants to see the flimsy Minimum Allowable Wage replaced with the more stringent conditions in the new bill, with a limit on working hours and accommodation charged separately. This would equal out as a modest rise with more employee protection. Our city still has a long way to go in achieving decent worker’s rights and equality – respecting the workforce that keeps HK working would be a fitting starting point.

    Time Out Column - 14.10.09

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