Be grateful, we're not as bad as Singapore


I guess Hong Kong has changed somewhat since I was there last, from this article in the South China Morning Post:

If you’re one of the many Hongkongers who think the MTR went off the rails when its staff stopped a schoolgirl at Tai Wai Station for carrying a Chinese musical instrument, and days later followed and interrogated a schoolboy passenger carrying a cello, know that the Hong Kong government thinks you’re overreacting.

In defence of the MTR’s crackdown on passengers breaking its rules by taking “oversized” luggages on trains – a rule some Hongkongers feel seems to apply only to musicians and cyclists and not the throngs of people carrying suitcases of milk powder to the border – Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung reasoned that, “when compared with Singapore, the system there is stricter”.

To be fair, a cello is rather large and I would assume by ‘Chinese musical instrument’ they mean one of those very large traditional ones, and these can pose a significant risk to other passengers on a transport system like Hong Kong’s which can often be packed with people. Perhaps a study in the way Australians are, but the kids at my high school that played such instruments were always picked up by their parents - I guess Chinese parents don’t really have time for that sort of thing.

Regardless when has ‘it’s justified because it’s not as bad as X’ ever been a good argument for anything? Maybe try a little harder to convince people rather than effectively saying ‘be grateful it’s not worse than this’.

Having said that, I’m sure as an ignorant tourist I’ve broken some of these Singaporean rules and not even known it. I didn’t understand at the time why my companions were eyeing me nervously as I excitedly snapped some photos but I guess now I understand.

I guess there’s no free pass for ignorant tourists though…