Reasons to be thankful for ruling on paid work

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 March, 2009, 12:00am

'Raju', from Punjab in India, has been working in Hong Kong illegally for four years.

The 35-year-old claimed asylum shortly after catching a boat from Shenzhen.

And why he is seeking asylum?

'I have a property dispute back in India and my life would be in danger if I returned,' he said.

'After the decision in the court last week I will probably call my cousins and brothers to come join me in Hong Kong. They are also having a property dispute and their lives are in a little bit of danger too.'

On Monday, Mr Justice Alan Wright found that 29 Pakistani asylum seekers prosecuted for taking paid work erecting stalls on the Ladies Market in Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, were not in breach of immigration laws.

Raju didn't want to go into the details of his 'property dispute' but said his asylum claim was genuine. However, he did admit that life was considerably better in Hong Kong than at home and that he hoped the assessment of his status would drag on for several more years.

'I'm earning between HK$5,000 and HK$6,000 a month here - way more than I could back home - and I have a very comfortable life,' he said.

'Toni', from Pakistan, couldn't agree more. Life in Jalalpur Jattan, a town in the Gujrat district of Punjab province, was tough.

He left the troubled nation after a dispute among several men saw a local gangster end up dead - a crime for which the 31-year-old got the blame. 'Toni' also says his life would be in danger if he returned home.

'If I go back I will be tortured,' he said. 'It is not safe for me there.'

Those concerns have not stopped him buying a house there with his new-found wealth, though.

While he has not seen much progress on his asylum application, he claims he is earning up to HK$15,000 a month in the car-wrecking industry.

'I'm very happy that we can now work legally here. it will make life easier,' he said. 'Before, I was always worried about raids by immigration officers. Many people I know have been caught by them.

'Now I won't be so worried. I want to say thank you to those who made this decision.'