Trouble with D words: democracy and domestic helpers
In this week's edition, Beijing-Hong Kong tensions are expected to get worse, the New York Times concludes, and domestic helpers get in the spotlight in Canada's media
The liaison office of the central government in Hong Kong is a picture of anxiety and mystery, according to the New York Times.
The building is described as dark - “topped by a mysterious, nearly four-story black globe” - and the people who work there carry “worried hearts”, buying herbal relievers at the shop next door.
The reason? Rising anti-Beijing sentiment among Hongkongers, characterised by protests, scuffles along the border over milk powder and outcry at the influx of mainland tourists and pregnant mothers.
The Times story looks at the politics of the liaison office, whose long-time officials, Peng Qinghua and Li Gang, were ousted in December against their wishes. Their replacements don’t bode well for the city’s pro-democracy movement, the article concludes. Liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming...
has emphasised the “one country” portion of the formula, stressing that China’s sovereignty must be respected at all times.
“It’s going to get worse,” Martin Lee, a founder of the Democratic Party, told the New York Times.
Besides talk of democracy, there has also been hypothetical talk of monarchy - specifically, what if Hong Kong got to vote on a referendum to return to British rule, similar to the Falkland Islands’ vote last week.
Many people think Hongkongers would choose British overlords rather than Beijing ones, according to an informal poll by SCMP.com.
The poll, which sparked debate about colonial nostalgia and the future of Hong Kong, is now SCMP.com’s most popular, with nearly 20,000 votes. It also grabbed the attention of at least two media outlets.
RocketNews24's inaccurate headline reads: “More than 90 per cent” of Hong Kong citizens long to return to British rule
This is wrong because there’s no way of knowing whether the votes are from Hong Kong citizens or not. And the poll is carefully worded to address that point. More accurate would be: “More than 90 per cent of SCMP readers think Hongkongers long to return to British rule”.
Radio Free Asia took a more balanced view and quoted legislator “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung.
While the poll wasn't a scientific survey, it gave a snapshot of public sentiment towards Beijing in the years since the 1997 handover to Chinese rule.
"Hong Kong people feel that [their own] government is doing a worse job than it was during British rule," Leung said.
"If you were to ask them whether they were better off before the handover, the answer would probably be that things were a bit better."
Leung said people in Hong Kong tended to see 1997 as a dividing line.
"The interference from the Chinese Communist Party has frightened people in Hong Kong," he said. "That interference is getting more and more obvious, and more and more serious."
The poll was also cited on a petition page on Change.org, where 375 signers want the “British government to help Hong Kong out of its situation”.
To Sir David Cameron, the petition starts out.
Hong Kong is dying...
Fighting for equality
Canadian news website CBC News published two stories about Hong Kong's domestic helpers.
One looks at the landmark court case by Filipino helpers Evangeline Banao Vallejos and Daniel Domingo, who have appealed to the highest court to be given the right to apply for residency.
The other focuses on the abuse many maids face but do not report for fearing of losing their jobs.
Those reports come on the heels of a moratorium on Filipino helpers imposed by recruitment agencies. The groups have demanded that Hong Kong employers agree to new recruitment terms and conditions that comply with Manila's no placement-fee policy, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The Inquirer said the freeze on deployment of the helpers is working, citing fewer processing requests from recruiting agencies. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is looking to Bangladesh for helpers.
Other coverage from the week of March 10
- Pawnbroker sees shares surge more than 30 per cent on debut as Hong Kong’s first pawnshop IPO
- Can a pawnshop turn Hong Kong’s IPO market around?
- Hong Kong pawnbroker sees growth in ancient industry
- Financial Secretary John Tsang’s “middle class” remark
- Bitter Starbucks lesson for Hong Kong
- Hong Kong’s miser minister
- Former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen’s wine auction
- Henry Tang to sell $3.7 million wine from personal cellar
- Days of Wine and Offices in Hong Kong
- Jetstar’s Hong Kong launch is delayed Airline to launch its Hong Kong division at the end of the year after government changeovers in Beijing.
- Hong Kong backs ‘women on company boards’ drive HSBC, Goldman Sachs, PCCW and Swire Properties are among 35 companies whose chairmen are backing the Women’s Foundation’s launch of the 30 Percent Club, the Financial Times reports.
- Great views if you can see them PBS NewsHour's foreign affairs and defense editor emeritus interviews Christine Loh about Hong Kong air pollution problem.
- When fear went viral A lawyer and filmmaker recalls in the New York Times the fear and uncertainty in the days when Sars hit Hong Kong in 2003: “Panic set in.”
- Hong Kong journalists beaten in Beijing The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack in Beijing on two Hong Kong journalists outside the home of Liu Xia, the wife of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.
- Hong Kong International Film Festival takes on difficult issues Chinese features tackle such subjects as the one-child policy, sterilisation and Japan-Sino relations, the Los Angeles Times reports.
- Hong Kong woman sentenced to 10 years in jail for laundering HK$6.7 billion BBC and Bloomberg Businessweek report.
- Could Hong Kong’s subway provide sequestration inspiration? MTR Corp as a model for government to fund its activities.