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Ban on domestic helpers at pool: Clearwater Way Club takes sign suggesting prejudice down

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The sign banning domestic helpers from the swimming pool at the Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club has been taken down. This was reported by Janet Lee of the club’s PR agency Joyous Communications. The club has responded to criticism in the media and in letters to the editor over the sign, which suggested prejudice. Janet did not say, however, helpers will now be able to access the swimming pool. BUZZ asked this question directly, but there was no response.

The reason helpers were prohibited from the pool was safety, the agency says. The pool is not standard size and space is limited. In fact it is a beautiful large irregularly shaped pool overlooking the sea at the Country Club. Janet goes on to say also for safety parents must accompany children under 12 at the pool. Parents these days are likely to be so engrossed playing mobile phone that they may not notice little Johnny has sunk at the deep end. If Johnny’s helper was there it would be an added safety factor. A BUZZ team member has visited the pool area several times — on weekdays — and it has always been pristine and quiet.

The book Freakonomics devotes about 20 per cent of its pages to a study of how dangerous swimming pools are. They look innocuous, every smart property owner should have one to show off to visitors. All goes well, until one day the owner comes home to find the neighbour’s toddler at the bottom of the pool.

There was just one drowning in a public swimming pool last year, according to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, and 52 rescues, 995 “give a hand” and 345 accidents. Recently a coroner’s court heard how a 21-year-old woman drowned in the pool at the Hong Kong Yacht Club in 2014. Rainko Tai Sze-man was attending an Australian rules football club party beside the pool where there was loud music and constant wine pouring. Minutes after the party ended Rainko’s body was found by a lifeguard at the bottom of the club pool.

Swimming pools can be a death trap waiting to snap shut on the unwary. This gets away from the issue of discrimination. It is common in Hong Kong clubs for domestic helpers to be excluded from certain areas. The fact that it is common doesn’t make it right. The Clearwater Bay Country Club has gone part of the way to atoning by taking down the sign.

Here is the full response from club’s PR agency, English uncorrected:

“As a multi-cultural organisation, the club reiterates there is absolutely no discrimination. The club’s facilities are mainly for members’ use and the convenience of members. Domestic helpers have access to most of the club area including restaurants, children’s playground, badminton court, tennis courts and etc.

“The policy for not giving domestic helpers access to the swimming pool area is merely for safety reason, since the swimming pool is not standard size, thus there is limited space and capacity. Nonetheless, we have provided benches at the seating area near the pool. This is to avoid over-crowded at the poolside and all visitors’ safety. For safety reason children under 12 must be accompanied by their parents to enter the pool area. To avoid misunderstanding the club has already removed the sign.”

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