In case you missed it…


People strolling through Central Market at the moment will see a load of property ads neatly placed on one of the pillars. They will probably roll their eyes and wonder how much more desperate real-estate agencies will get in trying to sell their overpriced hovels. Maybe they will also wonder whether the government will take action against whichever unauthorized lowlife is using public space this way.

Many will probably walk on. But if they look more closely, they might notice something odd. The ads quote the apartment prices in terms of dollars per square foot, a valuation of limited use to buyers who want to know unit size and total price. Furthermore, these per-square-foot prices seem erratic – suspiciously low or maybe even a bit too outrageously high…


On closer inspection, the ads are purportedly offering ‘housing’ for domestic helpers…


Nearby are life-size floor-plans of domestic helpers’ bed spaces, such as on the floor of a tiny kitchen…


It’s an art project that’s also a rare example of the guerilla spoof-ad street-theatre thing Hong Kong needs and deserves – remember King’s Cube or Zevs’ Liquidated Logos? The city is begging for some parody Park N Shop posters or vicious anti-marketing to weaken brand equity.

Perhaps this installation is a bit too avant-garde and understated. Most of the passers-by, not to mention the domestic helpers having their Sunday gathering, were oblivious to it. The incessant real-estate and other commercial information-overload has left us so numb that we wouldn’t notice Red Hot Offers! signage if Watsons plastered it all over our bedroom walls while we were out. Of course, HK$18,000 for a 12-inch-by-12-inch patch of concrete doesn’t seem normal – it is normal.


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13 Responses to In case you missed it…

  1. Regislea says:

    Nice that the real estate agents are implicitly recognising the blatant abuse of the “own space” rule for employing a helper.

    Immigration naturally turns a very Nelsonian blind eye.

  2. reductio says:

    Check out the MTR sometime for Ad overload. Interestingly as the HK economy has ‘declined’ (read: fewer mainland lemmings) the number of mega ad projects covering every pillar and wall with “SK-II laser lifting with baby embryo stem power!” rubbish has gone down in tandem. So, it’s Sayanora to ads extolling the virtues of breast enlarging gel and Hello to MTR in-house productions with the theme of please, please take the Airport Express!

  3. Come on…you love it really. In Britain, they never talk about anything else but how much their shitty cold homes cost. They think they’re rich. Then they want to move and can’t find the cash. Here in Stanley I have an ongoing battle with the landlord. If I move he has to renovate a hovel. It’s fun watching someone’s millions of dollars turn to dust, rust and fust. The least I can do to help the world along is by shitting on just one landlord. We can all do it. Can’t wait for it to finally fall down. But in the meantime, it’s a lovely view from the window.

  4. WTF says:

    Let’s start a new and improved news transcription service to go along with the advertisement / street art commentary. Here’s a starter.

    “Highway maintenance workers killed after being hit by taxi”

    The Highways Department has expressed condolences to the victims’ families, the spokesman saying: “So sad to hear your minimum wage earning (husband/son/fill in the blank) was killed keeping the highways safer for the automotive oligarchy, and wipe up those tears on the reception floor, someone might slip. … … Whut, you’re still here”. The road contractor has promised to provide necessary assistance, a red pocket with HK$100 and the application forms for public housing, which should pan out in 7-10 years.

    The taxi driver has been arrested for dangerous driving not being Judge Bokhary’s Niece, even as the police continue their investigations into putting the blame of accident on anyone but those with money and power.

    Government payroll firemen get killed and the world falls apart. Kill a few road workers and the world yawns. Good thing the Taxi driver didn’t hit a dog, then he’d really be in trouble, just ask the KCR.

  5. LRE says:

    Excellent point — a dreadful hypocrisy that rather stuck in my craw:
    2 people who choose very dangerous careers and die on duty = our poor brave heroes! Stop all the clocks, cancel the fireworks, stop all the celebrations.
    2 people who choose supposedly safe careers and die on duty = Meh. Life goes on.

    Somehow I think it should be the other way round, by hey, TVB’s never done a soap revolving around the trials and tribulations of a group of Highway Maintenance workers, so screw them, eh?

  6. Joe Blow says:

    perspective, ladies, perspective: firemen keep us all safe, quite a horrible job, dangerous at many times, very hard work (as we saw on TV), unsociable hours, not much social recognition.

    Highway maintenance: very useful work, but overall quite safe, not too demanding, usually 9 to 6, and as all civil servants: very well paid (way above market rates), yet comparable to light construction work. Iron rice bowl.

  7. Knownot says:

    Got myself a working, walking,
    cleaning, talking
    live-in maid.

    Yes, I guess I really rely
    and she’ll be my
    live-in maid.

    When the little baby hollers
    count the dollars
    that she’s paid.

    Got myself a life-sustaining
    no complaining
    live-in maid.

    Take a look at her space, her bed,
    nearly five foot from toe to head!
    Two foot wide, and by her side
    her pretty things are laid!

    Got myself a working, walking …

    Take a look at her face, her smile.
    Guess she’s thinking all the while
    her life with us is easier
    than Indonesia!

    Got myself a working, walking …

    [with acknowledgement to ‘Living Doll’ recorded by Cliff Richard]

  8. Mary Melville says:

    This is probably the only place in the world where 39 citizens were drowned because of criminal negligence and to date not a single representative of the company that knowingly used an illegally modified ferry every day for years to transport it employees and for social activities has been charged.
    In a city where protests are organized on a daily basis that this has not been the focus of community anger says it all.
    The book sellers eventually got to go home. The 39 victims did not enjoy this luxury.

  9. Chinese Netizen says:

    And while we’re at it…where are all the “Je Sui Istanbul” postings on Facebook? Not Caucasoids in a western, enlightened nation but rather a bunch of swarthy types in a neo Islamist dictatorship?

  10. Cantankerous Old Sod says:

    Notwithstanding the different media/govt reaction to the two separate fatal incidents, there is one big, big difference.

    The firemen knew their job was highly dangerous and just got on with it. That takes courage. The road workers were doing a relatively normal job that got them tragically killed. No guts needed to work on the highways.

  11. Probably says:

    Whether one is a road digger or a fireman, no-one deserves to die doing a day’s work. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that appropriate risk assessments and adequate mitigating measures have been put in place to prevent accidents as far as is reasonably possible. Unfortunately, sometimes accidents do happen but in both cases I am sure that the employers (Fire Services Dept and Highways Dept) will both be made to bear the responsibility of investigating and addressing the causes of the tragedies especially more so as they are government departments….. oh, I’ll get my coat then.

  12. LRE says:

    @Joe Blow

    A fair point, although I suspect it’s not such an iron rice bowl once you get killed. But don’t get me wrong — I’m not down on the FSD or the public/government’s reaction to the firefighters’ deaths (a tragedy, for sure — perhaps especially so because it was just stuff in there) — I’m down on the callous lack of grief/sympathy/etc for the poor highway workers, especially by the government who employed both.

    And whilst firefighters definitely keep us safe and do a dangerous and onerous job, perspective back at you: I have certainly used a highway far more often than I’ve used firefighters . And whilst it’s supposedly not as dangerous a job (although this month it’s proved to be 150% more dangerous in terms of deaths), I’m not so sure if the Highway maintenance guys don’t contribute as much or even more to people’s safety than the fireman, just by dint of the sheer numbers of people on & frequency of use of highways. After all — even the Firemen have to drive their trucks on them to do their job.

    So all in all I think both are worthy of our praise as far as sacrifices made for the greater good, but again perhaps more so for the people who thought they were not in the position of making such a sacrifice, rather than those who understood they would be in danger.

  13. Monkey Reborn says:

    Awesomely subversive … that it took a few double-takes before I stopped wavering about its authenticity, speaks volumes … hopefully less about my own credulity, and more about the dark side of Hong Kong materialism

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