Stage mothers have always been part of showbiz with, often, an unhealthy control over the careers of their children, especially daughters, something seen- and very often accepted- by society and even elevated into their own “celebritydom” through the cavalier attitude of the entertainment media.

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These strange mums have existed since the days of the great Casting Couch in Hollywood to more recent times where we have seen the rabid power they’ve wielded over everyone from Britney Spears and so many young Disney artists to the Kardashian clan, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift- and many many more. Add Norman Bates “mother” to the list.

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Fast forward to Hong Kong and the current case of six-year-old primary school student- and “veteran model”- Celine Yeung whose photographs, one in which the child is seen posing wearing underwear with her face buried in a pillow while raising her buttocks has appeared in book published and sold at the Hong Kong Book Fair.

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If this isn’t disturbing enough, it was reading her mother’s comments on Facebook addressing complaints about these pictures: “It is unexpected that the media would compare Celine’s photo with other big sisters”- a reference to the adult “models” who sell thousands of their books at the fair featuring, well, titillating photos of themselves. The mother added, “After discussing with our family and the publisher, in order not to affect people’s impression of the photo book, we will take away the few said photos in the next edition.”

That’s not good enough, Mother Yeung. Neither are the comments from the photographer of the sessions- unattended by the mother: “Celine is wearing clothes in all photos” before showing desperation at work by gibbering on about people not having any problems with seeing photos of naked infants and wondering what age was appropriate to see children in stages of undress. Oh, please. Is this idiot for real?

Having seen, first hand, how, in Hong Kong, stage mothers, have, and continue to push their young daughters for jobs in print ads and television commercials- and during their teen and early twenties, enter them onto the city’s glut of “beauty pageants”, the greed and agendas of this species is an ugly sight.

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Most beauty pageants here are nothing more than televised cattle parades for old fat cats wanting something on the side while stage mothers go about their own business of pimping their daughters after checking out the bank balances of the local playboy suitors who always find their way onto these pageants when needing trophy wives to keep their parents happy. It’s called The Cecil Chao Syndrome.

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As for six year old Celine Yeung, as a parent, one wonders and worries what the future might hold for her.

As a journalist, one can’t help but think of labour laws, and, perhaps, new laws that need to be introduced so that cases like this don’t just disappear as another of Hong Kong’s inconvenient truths.