Bill seeking to ban Pinay helpers from working in HK slammed

Lawmakers Chan Chi-chuen (left) and Albert Chan Wai-yip (right). Photo: Felix Wong via

Lawmakers Chan Chi-chuen (left) and Albert Chan Wai-yip (right). Photo: Felix Wong via

via – A political party in Hong Kong is planning to push a bill that will ban Filipina domestic helpers from working there, to force President Benigno Aquino to apologize for the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy.

But this early, the move is not getting support from groups in Hong Kong, even as a Filipino group there branded the move as “racist.”

“No political party is willing to second (the) motion to ban Filipinos from Hong Kong – and even relatives of the Manila hostage victims have rejected the idea,” Hong Kong’s The Standard reported Thursday.

It also quoted Tse Chi-hang, brother of slain tourist guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, as saying victims’ families do not want the lives of Filipino maids in Hong Kong to be affected because of the issue.

Earlier, a report on Radio Television Hong Kong said “People Power” party legislator Albert Chan pushed for the ban.

He also pushed the Hong Kong government to penalize Manila for its continued failure to apologize.

During the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Aquino did not apologize to Hong Kong for the death of eight tourists during the Aug. 23, 2010 incident.

In the 2010 hostage crisis, a dismissed policeman took a busload of tourists hostage and demanded his reinstatement but he and some of his hostages were killed in a botched rescue operation.

Last Sunday, reporters from three Hong Kong media outfits had their APEC press credentials revoked after shouting questions at Aquino, an act which APEC staff described as rude.

On the other hand, RTHK said former Security Secretary Regina Ip, who now chairs the New People’s Party, said the proposal is technically feasible, but could also hurt local people.

3-stage ban

The Standard said the planned ban proposed by Chan and party colleague Ray Chan Chi-chuen involved three stages and could be implemented in two weeks.

First would be a halt on the issue of new visas for domestic helpers, then a stop to renewals of existing contracts.

A third stage would be a block on all Philippine nationals going to Hong Kong.

Chan himself has a Filipino domestic helper, but said the bans should remain until Aquino apologized, those involved in the botched rescue of the hostages were punished and survivors and the families of victims compensated.

“If the government refuses to debate the motion in Legco, Hongkongers will continue to be humiliated by the Philippine government,” he said.


However, the plan drew criticism even within Hong Kong.

Lawmaker Ip Kwok-him of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong warned against any rushed move.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, chairwoman of the New People’s Party, voiced fears the proposal would affect the middle class, and the Philippine government may not see it as a threat.

She added the Hong Kong government, she added, “may seek funds from Legco to compensate the survivors and families of victims.”

Against the proposal as well was League of Social Democrats lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who said domestic helpers should not be blamed.

“The government might instead put pressure on the Philippine government through commerce or tourism,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Employers of Domestic Helpers Association chairman Joseph Law Kwan-din warned of a “language barrier for employers if they suddenly had to switch to domestic helpers from other countries.”

For his part, Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body spokesman Eman Villanueva said it would be “racist” to ban Philippine maids.

“Filipinos are not the same as the Philippine government,” Villanueva said.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung- kwok said any action that might affect Hong Kong residents, especially the employers, “will have to be carefully considered.”

“We will not do anything that would affect residents,” he added.

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