... Hong Kong

by Donald Lee Lap Tak

Poorest nation, richest nation (Issue III+IV/2018)

The idea of doing overtime is not just accepted by bus drivers but by all kinds of workers in all kinds of jobs here.Hong Kong is the city in the world where the most people work over 50 hours a week. Exertion is everything here, and from childhood on: Before children even go to school they have to at least know how to read, write, do basic arithmetic and speak one other language. Everything is a competition and the logic of the contest goes like this: He who starts earlier and stays longer will get further than the others.

A lot of locals here are conservative and they believe that only trouble makers would oppose working conditions. There’s a saying in Cantonese that, directly translated, means “they have no gas”. It means, the person has no pride.

Still, things are slowly changing. My generation is no longer content to simply accept any and all working conditions. A lot of us studied or worked overseas and we know it can be different. The number of critical voices is increasing. 

Transcribed by Gundula Haage

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