Immigration officials in Hong Kong must improve quota system for helpers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2017, 5:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2017, 10:13pm

Angus Hardern’s letter (“Helpers queue overnight for new contract”, March 17) highlighted concerns over the ordeal that some helpers have to go through to get their contracts renewed.

Domestic helpers may have to wait overnight, on the pavement outside the Immigration Department and with no access to toilet facilities, just to secure a place in the line to have their contracts processed the next day.

I attempted to get an online appointment for my helper one month before his contract was due to expire, but there were no available dates.

Without an appointment, my helper waited from 10pm until 8.45am the following day, an astonishing 10 hours and 45 minutes, to see an immigration officer. Others who had joined the queue after 1am were told the next morning that the quota was full for the day. This is an unbelievable situation; improving the current quota system is absolutely necessary.

I agree with the suggestion that sufficient staffing is needed to ensure that applications can be processed during normal office working hours. There is also merit in the suggestion that the length of contracts be extended to three years to alleviate the high demand.

Immigration officials are aware that this unacceptable situation exists. Those who are given a quota chip the following morning are asked what time they had arrived.

Since this is a known issue, why is the government not doing something about it?

An even more serious question is posed. Why are domestic helpers being treated in this way? If a Hong Kong citizen was subjected to the same treatment in a foreign country, one can be sure that their government would be inundated with complaints.

In a society such as ours, it is unfathomable that people have to sleep on the cold pavement overnight just to get their working visa processed.

Our helpers are being put into this situation through no fault of their own. They just want to keep their jobs in Hong Kong to provide for their families back home.

How would anyone feel about being put in a similar predicament? Indeed, how would government officials feel if any of their relatives were obliged to endure the same plight?

I would say to them: take heed and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

Deborah Lee, Wan Chai