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what’s hot — hong kong public service announcements!

You must think my life is really dull if I am able to find excitement in public service announcements (PSAs), but some of them here are really pretty funny and definitely fit that “only in Hong Kong” category, so I thought I would share a few of them with you here. PSAs are “messages in the public interest disseminated by the media without charge, with the objective of raising awareness, changing public attitudes and behavior towards a social issue.” (Wikipedia) The PSAs I hear run on RTHK Radio 4 (Radio-Television Hong Kong), a public broadcaster with no commercial advertising and with programming in a mix of English and Cantonese. The station plays primarily classical music (both Western and Chinese), and broadcasts lots of live or previously recorded classical concerts and long in-depth interviews with artists appearing in Hong Kong. It’s a lot like the greatly missed CBC Radio 2 of old (Canada’s public broadcaster). There is an English newscast at the top of every hour followed by a few minutes of PSAs. I don’t know if these PSAs play on other HK stations, but they are a staple on this one. Here are texts of some that caught my ear:

  • VERY apropos for Hong Kong: “The road is not for text messaging, nor for social networking, and of course not for mobile games. Pedestrians who use their mobile phones or tablets while walking, especially when crossing the road, are risking their lives. For safety’s sake, keep your eyes on the road. Pedestrians should pay attention to the way ahead.”
  • Helpful household hints: “His eyes are bigger than his stomach! He is a big waster! When you shop at market, bring your shopping checklist. Think before you buy. Don’t overspend. When cooking at home, try to get the portions right. Don’t cook excessively. Eat all the food up, and everyone will be happy. Wrap up and refrigerate leftovers. Pay attention to expiry dates. Finish food before expiry. Make food-wise choices.”
  • Accompanied by jaunty music “We may all have different dreams. But we all have the same determination to fight corruption. Only when we have a clean and fair society can we achieve our goals. Build a clean future for our next generation. Don’t tolerate corruption. …”
  • Accompanied by dainty piano music … “Trees. Remember the first time you drew one? Or played hide and seek under one? We spend many moments under trees, which evoke happy memories. But their growth is affected by their natural cycle and the environment. We have to take proper care of our trees and deal with those that are dangerous so we can live together in harmony with trees. People. Trees. Harmony.”
  • For around the office water cooler: “Tai chi is a healthy exercise. Yet doing tai chi and public administration is not healthy at all. In local slang, it means shirking responsibility or not giving people the help they need. In other words, mal-administration. Let’s say NO to that. To complain against government departments and public organizations, please call the Office of the Ombudsman at …”
  • In case this wasn’t covered in the textbook: “What is the meaning of respect? Some people say it means accepting each other’s differences with no conditions. Some think it means not criticizing others for following their own style, making their own choices, or expressing their views. So what do you think? One thing is certain, if you want to be respected, you must respect others first. Respect different values. Embrace different views.”
  • I think this woman deserves someone a lot smarter … “Man: Any idea of what to do with the holidays? Woman: How about going on a trip? Man: What about Dengue fever?! (Editor’s note: That’s certainly the first place my mind would leap!) Woman: Well, always make sure you do the right things to prevent mosquito bites. Man: So … that means I should wear light-coloured and long-sleeved clothing and trousers and use a mosquito repellent. Woman: Right! And also make sure you get a room with air conditioning or a bed with a mosquito net. And don’t go in any areas where there’s big scrub or undergrowth. Then, you should have a bite-free holiday!!”

what’s not — do nots!!

You wouldn’t believe all the “DO NOT” signs here. Everywhere you look in Hong Kong, you find signs telling you what not to do. I can only assume these are posted because some people have actually done these things. Here are some examples:

  • No spittingChina_HongKong_No_Spitting[1]
  • No jumping into the pond
  • No flammable liquid gas
  • Waste discarding prohibited
  • No climbing or diving
  • No hawking
  • No drying of linen and clothes
  • No playing of remote controlled model cars
  • No urination
  • No durians

Interdiction sign in Hong-Kong 2 And at MTR (subway) stations, there are constant announcements to hold the handrail, it’s raining so be careful because the floor might be wet, mind the gap, allow passengers to disembark first, don’t keep your eyes only on your mobile phone, etc. So is all this an authoritarian approach to controlling people’s behavior and thinking? Is it that the authorities don’t think the people can think for themselves? Or is it to ensure an orderly and well-behaved society? I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. Maybe there’s a sign somewhere that will tell me!!

Durians are a super-smelly Malaysian fruit, often barred from hotels and other public places

Durians are a super-smelly Malaysian fruit, often barred from hotels and other public places

no having fun no peeing sign