Sunday, 7 June 2015

Picture of the Day: HSBC's New Weekend Policy

HSBC has cordoned off its walkway on the weekends to ensure no occupation
A local newspaper has an online poll asking if Hong Kong is a racist society. So far 474 people have responded, with 83 percent saying yes, 17 percent no.

Maybe other people thought it was too obvious to bother answering.

I had that reaction when I saw what HSBC headquarters in Central is doing on the weekends these days.

Previously domestic helpers would hang out in the walkway area on Sundays and understandably it was noisy there, and lots of garbage collected, security guards were hired to make sure there was no damage.

But it was a space for them to use, to meet up with their friends and relatives and catch up on the week.

The bank celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and a few months ago installed some interesting panels showing HSBC's history, as well as lighting on the walkway, and even added lights to the podiums where the two lions, named after Stephen and Stitt, two of HSBC's famous bankers. (Stephen is the one roaring, Stitt sits quietly, apparently reflecting the personalities of the two as well).

Because of the addition of these panels and lighting in the central area of the walkway, this part was cordoned off and the domestic helpers just sat around it, which resulted in many having to find another spot to hang out.

However, now the bank has decided it's had enough of domestic helpers camping out on its space and has set up cordons in the entire area to prevent anyone from sitting down on the ground. On Saturday staff had set up what looked like an endless queue line, but no one in it, and potted plants arranged to make it difficult to hold any kind of gathering.

As a result this afternoon I passed by the bank and saw the helpers had basically occupied the sidewalk in front of HSBC, making it virtually impossible for anyone to walk by.

Is this being racist?

Many people hire domestic helpers because they need two incomes to financially survive and extra help makes a big difference. They are paid lowly wages and in some cases live in horrific conditions and treated badly. By the same token there are others who are much loved by their employers. But as a society can we not give them a decent place to hang out on their only day of rest?


  1. I find it ironic that, Central, the bastion of power on the weekdays is occupied by domestic workers on the weekends, I actually find HK very tolerant as I don't find this in neighboring cities such as Singapore. They gather around Lucky Plaza on Orchid Road but not in the financial heart of the city.
    I also find it ironic that the helpers who clean homes during the week leave such a terrible mess behind them on weekends.
    I appreciate my helper but I won't put her on a pedestal either. I think HK employers are generally very generous and kind to their helpers. In Singapore, no employer would hire any helpers who had worked in HK as they are considered 'spoiled 'and for that matter, no domestic helper ex-HK would seek work in Singapore. HK is not heaven but definitely well considered by helpers.

  2. HI Anonymous

    Your observations are interesting. It is ironic that domestic helpers are allowed to occupy the financial district, but then again it's considered very quite there on the weekend which is probably why the government close the roads there. And yes agree about the mess which is probably why HSBC got fed up with cleaning up after them and the cost!