Falsely accused employers are sitting ducks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 May, 1996, 12:00am

In reply to E.Q. Villanueva's letter (South China Morning Post, March 25), I fail to see how a view could be formed that most Legco representatives may be worried about being seen to support foreign domestics at the expense of local employers. In fact from my observation the reverse is true.

It seems to be extremely fashionable for Legco members to fight for the rights of foreign domestics, Lee Cheuk-yan, Elizabeth Wong, Christine Loh, Martin Lee to name but a few, who either have their own self-serving motives for furthering the foreign domestics' causes or have extremely blinkered vision.

Malpractices by foreign domestics are widespread.

The fact that over 150,000 are still here could be an indication of poor law enforcement, as the figure does not differentiate between the genuine foreign domestics and the ones who engage in illegal work under the guise of foreign domestics.

Employers who are victims of false accusations by foreign domestics are not just 'left in the lurch' and the 'down-side' is not 'limited to the loss of a single air-fare'. The stress and the mental anguish, the time and money wasted can be quite devastating to aggrieved employers.

Employers in these cases are like sitting ducks waiting for their ex-helpers to take a shot at them at the helpers' convenience.

Legal aid is not available to employers, which means that they have to incur expensive legal fees in order to defend false allegations. The Labour Department has no power to prevent helpers from pursuing their claims in the Labour Tribunal, even when it is obvious that the claims are frivolous.

Often even when employers have won their cases in the tribunal, the helpers can still insist on appealing to the High Court, because legal aid is readily available. If they are turned down for legal aid, they will automatically appeal against the decision and individual cases can drag on for over a year and the amount of claim involved is often $1,000 or $2,000.

Eventually, even if the High Court upholds the Labour Tribunal's decision and rules that the whole process is an abuse of the court procedure, the helpers are often not punished for wasting the court's time and taxpayers' money, and get away with it scot-free.

The motivation for helpers to make false claims against employers is clearly to enable them to remain in Hong Kong for extra months and even years. We are supposed to believe that these helpers stay in Hong Kong for months on end with no means of supporting themselves do so purely for the pursuit of justice, in pursuit of $1,000 or $2,000, because they are desperate for the money, in spite of the fact that illegal part-time work brings in $50 per hour.

A mere eight-hour day and six-day week would bring in over $10,000 per month.

Local part-time domestics cannot find jobs, because the market is flooded with Filipino domestics too ready to do illegal part-time work.

It is precisely that foreign domestics are never prosecuted for making false accusations against the employers that makes the system so unfair to employers.

Admittedly there are cases where employers have been convicted of offences against helpers, but there are also cases where helpers have been convicted of extreme violence against their employers and more shockingly, against the employers' defenceless children.

Foreign domestics are given employment visas for a year at a time. They are also given the much coveted Hong Kong identity cards which many view as their 'pass' to illegal work and with which they managed until recently to fool many ignorant employers who were unaware of the restrictions.

S. YUNG Kowloon