CHINA / National

Ayis overcome discriminatory shuttle bus rules
(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-28 09:04

A luxury apartment complex is allowing ayis to sit anywhere they want on its shuttle buses, ending a controversy that bloggers have dubbed Shanghai's "Rosa Parks" incident.

An upgrade residential community in Shanghai has barred domestic helpers from sitting in the front of the shuttle bus. [thebeijingnews]
The Shanghai Racquet Club and Apartments apologized yesterday for requiring housemaids to sit at the back of its shuttles and to give up their seats to residents if the vehicles are full. The company said it didn't intend to discriminate against anyone.

Though the buses, which link the complex in outlying Minhang District with various locations downtown, were originally meant for residents, maids now have full rights to a ride, and more buses have been added to ease overcrowding, the residential complex said.

The controversy began on May 10 when the rules making ayis second-class riders were imposed.

Expat blogger Jeremy Goldkorn, who grew up during the apartheid years in South Africa, heard about the bus rules from a friend and launched an attack online.

He compared the report with the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks, a black American who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. It was an event that galvanized the US civil rights movement.

Goldkorn posted a picture of Parks on his blog with the caption, "Now in Shanghai?"

The posting was picked up by many other Chinese blogs and triggered widespread discussion online.

Less than a week after the trouble began, the ayi restrictions were rescinded.

In an interview early this week with Beijing News, Russell Finney, the development's chief operating officer, said the original rules were meant to ensure better service for apartment owners.

"Just like taking an airplane, some people are in first class and others in economy class," he was quoted as saying.

"The club owns only three shuttle buses, but sometimes many privately employed workers took the seats and club members were not able to get on the vehicles."


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