A PRO-BEIJING Hong Kong executive councilor (equivalent to a state congressman or assemblyman in the US system), Mrs. Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, on Friday April 10 accused Filipina housemaids of ruining the marriages of their employers by seducing their expatriate bosses.
A former Secretary for Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, and seen as a possible choice of the Chinese central government authorities to be the SAR’s highest official, wrote her condemnation of Filipina housemaids in her blog, Facebook and in an article for the Chinese-language daily Ming Pao.
Hong Kong civil Society groups devoted to defending immigrants joined the Filipino community in protesting Mrs. Ip’s attacks.
Another HK lawmaker, Civic Party’s Ms. Claudia Mo Man-ching filed a complaint against Mrs. Ip with the Equal Opportunities Commission and accused her of “blatant racism.”
United Filipinos of Hong Kong and the Asian Migrants’ Co-ordinating Body (AMCB) urged the Philippine government to declare Mrs. Ip a “persona non grata” and ban her from entering the country. Eman Villanueva, the spokesman of AMCB, said Mrs. Ip’s words were very racist as they were directed to “a particular nationality.” He said the foreign domestic helpers are in many cases sexually abused or harassed by their employers. “That is more problematic” than cases of maids seducing their employers because in seductions it is “up to the man to agree to be seduced.”
The Foreign Domestic Workers Dignity and Rights Concern Group Hong Kong wrote The Manila Times about Mrs. Ip’s racist accusations and registered its solidarity with Filipinos. Mrs. Chan, no first name stated, emailed The Times an article summarizing the event.
Mrs. Chan’s report says Mrs. Ip said in her articles that “she allegedly received complaints from some ‘expats’ wives’ that the government should be held responsible for allowing ‘Filipino maids to seduce their husbands.’ Mrs. Ip blamed the Hong Kong media for overly focusing on cases in which Filipino maids were sexually and physically abused. Meanwhile the media failed to investigate the more pressing issue of foreign maids wrecking marriages.”
Mrs. Chan also reports that “Whilst admitting that she lacked substantive data to support her claims, Mrs Ip insisted that the problem exists and people should not turn a blind eye. She refused to apologize to the Filipino community in Hong Kong.”
“We are shocked that the Filipino government remains silent…” Mrs. Chan’s report continues. “This is a disgrace and insult to those hardworking Filipinos struggling to make a living in Hong Kong.
“In Hong Kong the rights and dignity of the Filipinos are never protected, especially those working as domestic helpers. Maids are not entitled to Hong Kong’s minimum wage protection, HK$32 guaranteed by law to all citizens. The foreign domestic workers (FDWs) are entitled to a monthly minimum wage of HK$4,010 (roughly 22,900 pesos), while other workers are entitled to approximately HK$6,000 (roughly 34,255 pesos). Maids are compelled by law to live with their employers. Some suffer various types of abuse such as intimidation, denial of statutory holidays, outrageously long and no-pay extra working hours, non-payment or partial payment of wages and, of course, physical and sexual abuses.
“Amnesty International reported in late 2013 that almost 20 per cent of FDWs were violently abused by their employers. In 2014 the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission found that 6.5 per cent of FDWs suffered sexual abuse.
“We express grave concern about the situation of Filipino maids in Hong Kong. We urge both the Hong Kong and Filipino governments to protect the rights and uphold the dignity of Filipino maids working in Hong Kong. Their hard work and efforts should be appreciated. As a lawmaker, Mrs Ip’s unsubstantiated and discriminating accusations are intolerable and indeed shameful in a civilized society as Hong Kong.
“We take this opportunity to thank the people of the Philippines, and we wish the friendship between us would not be affected by the ignorant comments from Mrs Ip.”
The South China Morning Post, HK’s leading English-language daily, ran a report by Jeffie Lam on this scandal on Friday. The report is also critical of Mr. Ip’s racist attitude toward Filipinos.
We hope Mrs. Regina Ip does not become HK SAR’s Chief Executive.