Who’s to Blame for Hong Kong’s Poor Reputation for Manners?

Have Hong Kong manners been given a bad rap?

If Hong Kong has a reputation as being a rude city, are pushy mainlanders and uneducated domestic workers from Southeast Asia the real culprits?

That is what several readers have written in to suggest.

Take a reader from Chicago, Illinois, who I assume is originally from Hong Kong.

He agrees that the Australian tourist Steve Stefanopoulous’s comments about manners in Hong Kong are “true to a certain extent”.

But he is quick to point out that the same can be said of other big cities such as New York, Chicago, London, and Paris. He writes:

“Hong Kong is now a mix of people from all over, mainly from Mainland China and Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Malaysia, etc.

“So when all these people from Third World countries get all mixed in a tiny city like Hong Kong, they tend to be nervous, holding on to their own ground.

“You can’t differentiate them from the real Hong Kong people, who are genuinely nice people. For example, those you meet working at the banks, who will greet you and are eager to help.

Education Needed

“Another interesting point about Hong Kong is the enormous amount of people living there. The government needs to place more importance on the provision of education to the newly arrived immigrants and the younger generation regarding public awareness, make more seats marked for handicapped use, and [encourage] hospitality and politeness in general.”

Accidental Travel Writer Responds

Having visited Hong Kong in the early 1970s and returning to live in the late 1970s and again in the 1990s, I would have to say that the younger generation in Hong Kong tends to be much politer than their forebears.

Service standards in shops and restaurants are much better today than they were before. They used to be abysmal.

Before, staff wouldn’t let you try on clothes. If you asked to see something, they refused, unless you agreed to buy it.

Once a salesgirl screamed at me, “You wasted my time!” as I was leaving a shop at the then newly opened Landmark shopping mall in Central.

I hadn’t even asked for her help!!! She had approached me, showed me a pair of slacks, which were priced at HK$1,400 – in 1981!!! And I politely declined to buy them.

Younger sales staff at shops such as Giordano and Baleno are much more cheerful than their parents or their grandparents ever were. And if you leave empty handed, they would NEVER  think of screaming insults at you. Instead they will smile at you and thank you for visiting their shop.

Reality Check

Domestic workers from the Philippines are among the politist and friendliest people in town. If anyone offers a seat to a pregnant woman on the MTR, she will most likely be a hard working domestic worker from the Philippines.

Southeast Asian and Nepalese employees working in restaurants, supermarkets, and fast food shops also tend to be very warm and friendly.

To Read the Original Post

My post on 22 July 2011 about a visitor from Australia that wrote a letter to the South China Morning Post criticizing the lack of manners in Hong Kong struck quite a chord.

To read this post, please click on the following link: Aussie Tourist Blasts Hong Kong Manners, Says, ‘I Shall Not Return!’

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One Reply to “Who’s to Blame for Hong Kong’s Poor Reputation for Manners?”

  1. First, I think it’s mostly people from China. If you happen to visit China, you will never be able to get on a bus. Shame on us- Chinese. Mostly because… education (which you have mentioned), when one people starts doing it (not having manners), the others follow the herd as they would think: if I’m lining up, I look so stupid and not taking full advantage.
    Secondly, also a Chinese character: not to speak up. Most people just stand there and let others get in the queue before them and won’t say a word. It’s like who’s got a louder voice wins.

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