Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Feeling Swarmed

The full page ad financed by some angry people
Today's Apple Daily carries this full page ad featuring an image a locust, representing mainlanders flooding into Hong Kong.

It says, "Would you like to see Hong Kong spend HK$1,000,000 every 18 minutes on the children of non-Hong Kongers? Hong Kongers have had enough!"

The "anti-locust" ad was financed by internet users who raised more than HK$100,000 in less than a week.

"[Mainlanders] have already crossed our bottom line," said Yung Jhon, who refused to disclose his real name and was the organizer of the fund-raising campaign. "Why are mainland mothers flooding in to take up resources in public hospitals, getting our benefits and social welfare? Why do mainlanders... refuse to follow our rules and order? We can't accept that."

Web users coined the term "locusts" to describe mainlanders who consume resources in the city, from delivering babies here for residency, and splash out on property or luxury brands.

Meanwhile culture critic Jimmy Pang Chiming said the hostility reached a critical point and welcomed the ad. "It not only shows Hong Kong has freedom of speech, but also shows mainland leaders just how serious this cultural clash has become," he said, adding that the dispute reflected resistance towards mainland culture. "Hong Kong people do not want Hong Kong to become mainland China."

Denny Ho Kwok-leung, associate professor at Polytechnic University's Department of Applied Social Science said the ad indicated the tensions between locals and mainlanders would not end soon.

He also warned Hong Kong's government to maintain rule of law and freedom of speech. "It's very important to stick to the principles because if they cannot do that, people will lose their faith in the system, and Hong Kong will collapse in no time," he said.

There is also local resentment of more companies using simplified Chinese to attract mainland customers.

"We hope the authorities can pay attention to this worsening cultural clash," said Yung who claimed to be in his 20s and in the construction sector. "Now we will see if the government really listens to the people's voice."

We're watching to see what happens next.

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