Sunday, 6 October 2013

Still Competing with Mainlanders

Hong Kong people may think the city has lost its brand on the international stage, but for mainlanders, it signifies anything above board and to international standards.

This past week, parents both locals and mainlanders queued up for two days and nights just to get a place for their child at a kindergarten in Sheung Shui. The school had 900 places, but many more families tried to vie for a spot in North District.

However there was a side business to be made -- some HK$2,500 will get you someone to line up for you, while over HK$4,000 will not only help you queue, but also give you tips on how to do well in the school interview.

Heidy Chan Hau-yi is a 27-year-old housewife who lives near the school and started lining up at around 10pm on Thursday for an application form for her two-year-old. "I'm really worried my child will have to go to a kindergarten far away," Chan said. "It's really unfair that I'm living here, but I have to queue overnight just for an application form."

Locals in the area are resenting the fact that many mainlanders are also in the line up, creating competition for spaces, even though their children were born in Hong Kong, making them eligible to study there.

At a kindergarten in Fanling, Li Liang, 31 from Shenzhen was happy to get a spot after applying to almost 10 kindergartens in North District for his two-year-old son who was born in the city.

"I want my son to experience Hong Kong society as early as possible, receive a thorough Hong Kong education and become a thorough Hong Konger," he said."

Li's comment is interesting as it goes against the current trend of mainlanders renouncing their Hong Kong residency as they feel they haven't received enough benefits from it.

Nevertheless, the idea of setting up a Hong Kong international school in Shenzhen won't assuage demand -- it seems mainland parents want to make sure their children get a good education on Hong Kong soil.

My relatives also pointed out that Mongkok and Tsim Sha Tsui are swamped with mainlanders, not to shop -- but to see doctors and dentists for ailments. This has resulted in spending three hours just to see the doctor. As a result they have begun seeing doctors in Central to save time.

Perhaps we will soon see medical tours to Hong Kong...

This demand for Hong Kong good and services will continue to exacerbate the system and both the Hong Kong government and Beijing have done nothing to either stem the flow or set limits.

The Chinese government should be faulted for not doing enough to regulate everything from food to health care, and for the Leung administration to think that Hong Kong's infrastructure has even more capacity to cater to tourists is pretty much at breaking point.

Hong Kongers continue to be second-class citizens in our own city -- when will we be able to claim it back?

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