• Thu
  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 12:06am
NewsHong Kong
COURTS

Foreign helpers' plea for permanent residency fails

Judgment by top court ends two-year saga over right of abode and denies request by the government for Beijing 'interpretation'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 March, 2013, 10:39am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 March, 2013, 11:27am

The top court ruled yesterday that foreign domestic helpers did not have the right to apply for permanent residency, affirming the government's right to impose immigration controls.

The landmark judgment ended the two-year right-of-abode saga that began when Evangeline Vallejos and Daniel Domingo, two Philippine domestic helpers who had worked in Hong Kong for more than 20 years, sought a judicial review of immigration law.

Mark Daly, solicitor for the two, said Vallejos was "calmly resigned" and that Domingo had called the ruling "unfair".

Eman Villanueva, spokesman for the Asian Migrants' Co-ordinating Body, said: "The ruling gives a judicial feel to the unfair treatment and social exclusion of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong."

But also in its unanimous decision, the Court of Final Appeal rejected the government's controversial request that it seek an interpretation from Beijing, ruling it "unnecessary".

The request was seen by some as a backhanded attempt by the government to get Beijing to halt the flow of another group of unwanted migrants - children born locally of mainland parents - while putting the city's prized judicial independence at risk.

This means the judgment has thwarted the administration's attempt to solve right-of-abode issues involving domestic helpers and children born locally to mainlanders in one single case.

The government said it would "endeavour" to resolve the remaining right-of-abode issues within the local legal system, but fell short of saying that it would not directly seek an interpretation from Beijing.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung told a briefing last night: "We are trying our very best to resolve all legal issues concerning [children born in Hong Kong to mainlanders] by legal avenues which are available within the local legal system.

"We will exhaust our means before we do anything [else]."

Academics and pro-democracy lawmakers said the current ban on mainland women whose husbands were not Hong Kong permanent residents from booking beds in public hospitals had been effective.

They said there was no need for the government to seek an interpretation from Beijing, which they said would damage Hong Kong's autonomy.

The Bar Association and Law Society said directly seeking an interpretation from Beijing would be likely to undermine the rule of law of Hong Kong. Law professor Albert Chen Hung-yee, a Basic Law Committee member, said there was only a slim chance the government would directly seek an interpretation from Beijing given the opposition from the public and the legal and political communities.

"I cannot see that the government has a good basis for it to seek an interpretation," he said, adding the zero-birth-quota measure had been successful. Law professor Michael Davis said: "The government should pursue local options. What they have done so far has had some success. There is really no reason to project beyond that."

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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ddc0419
This is truly a stupid & peculiar things in HK stirred up by some fake liberalists & humanitarian fascists!! Where got in the world would there be having the "right of abode" to which foreign workers entitled when work at a foreign place? In Singapore, Australia, Middle East or the U.S.A., these legal cases would not even be considered!! It's definitely a total waste of tax payers money on such stupid acceptance of court hearing and procedure. So sad for the local HK people :-(
oxymoron19
Drop this political charade, the racist card and think rationally for once. Filipinos are extremely priviledged to work in HK. Given their Lavish salary, it's more than 3 times what they could earn as an average worker back home. Working as a domestic helper is a dream job for all blue collars and even white collars in their country. This is a fact. Without being grateful and be content of what they have, they exploit the legal system in HK. They wanted more. A permanent residency where they could compete financially and most likely send their families to reside here for a better living. This is greed!
In addition, given the poverty the citizens of the Phillipines has to endure, along with decades of corrupted presidents that drained their country's wealth and compounded by dire living conditions and political instability, it is natural that Filipinos wanted to flee. They see Hong Kong as a promise land, metaphorically like Jeuruselm to the Istreilalites. Remember these people are not refugees and they have a country of their own. Their exploitation of the law is a blatant invasion.
I feel so sad seeing this one domestic helper crying her lungs out on the news after hearing of the court verdict. Not that I have any sympathy for her cause, but rather her lack of shame by showing how desperate she was in ditching her own country. All they see is what they don't have but not what they have. We Hong Kongers have compassions for the needs but NOT for the wants.
anson
To those closest racists who have come out on the attack of Hong Kong and Hong Kong people,
Hong Kong and Hong Kong people are some of the kindest and gentlest people in the world. In contrast to the UK where it isn't safe for women to go out by themselves at night, where old people are forced to live separate from their families and where crimes against the person are considered as nothing special. Compare London to Hong Kong. Recently we were shocked to see a spate of murders over a few days. This is the norm in London and hardly raises an eyebrow. Hong Kong people have a great deal more respect for people than those in the UK do.
I am British (caucasian) and my wife is Chinese, the Westerners commenting here sicken me. They equally guilty of racism. In this case against Hong Kong Chinese. I have many friends who are British and have to bite my tongue whenever they started going on about 'them' and their supposed shortfalls as a people and civilization. 'Them' being HK Chinese. They behave this way because of their ignorance or the culture.
In Hong Kong Chinese culture we try to look after our elderly family members in the family home. We would like more time with our children but don't get 5 day weeks and reasonable hours. We employ FDH largely so that we can keep our family together and provide love and care for our elders. We can iiron, we can use a washing machine. We don't abandon our family members. When we agree to conditions of a contract we honour them.
Byebye
Our great grandparents or grandprents did not come to Hong Kong on a contract; they came for different reasons. Morever Hong Kong once belonged to China, of course it is now back to China since the handover. Please be fair. The foreign helpers came on a 2-years contract, recruited by private families to work in their home. Hong Kong has already incurred money on this law case, such money in fact could be better used for much needed cause. I cannot imagine other countries that employ FDH would even entertain the case in the first instance.
ytrewq12345
Before we make flippant comments against these foreign helpers lets not forget that most of our grandparents and great grandparents were immigrants too, who came with nothing to make a better future for us and our families. We have reaped many benefits from foreign helpers who work long hours with little pay away from their families. They too are just trying to make a better future for their children.
tranquilben
we have another bozo with an indecipherable username ytrewq12345. or just plain laziness when choosing a username. hi bozo, you idiot. here are some facts in HK:
- 1 in 5 people in live in poverty
- the poverty line for a one-person family is HK$3,275 per month
- 40% of the Hong Kong population live in subsidised public housing
- 100,000 people live in coffin, cage homes and rooftops
- Over 1,000 people are homeless
- There are 650,000 working poor
- 300,000 children do not get 3 meals a day
- 1 in 3 seniors struggle to meet their basic nutritional needs
Let's tend to our own people first for a better future you moron.
req
Ever hear about the american grey squirrel eliminating all the native british red squirrels?
****www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rp.html
Total fertility rate:
Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
3.1 children born/woman (2013 est.)
****www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/hk.html
Total fertility rate:
Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
1.11 children born/woman (2013 est.)
Damned catholic values. Maybe they should build more call centres....
rease.92
What would happen if all foreign domestic helpers and other refugees stayed home and took care of their corrupt governments?
Maybe then they would be able to become economically powerful and wouldn't need to buy products from elsewhere? That would also help reduce airpollution in Hong Kong.
rease.92
Regardless of the RoA issue, foreign domestic helpers should be treated the same as any other foreigner wishing to work in Hong Kong.
If there were no discrimination in these cases, then they'd have the right to apply for RoA after 7 years living here like anybody else.
And a note to all opposed: in order to get a visa, a foreigner needs a job. There will be only a flood of foreigners, if locals offer them a flood of jobs.
aplucky1
nice logic, for a five year old

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