• Tue
  • Sep 16, 2014
  • Updated: 2:06pm
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

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

120

This article is now closed to comments

Byebye
Can those people who disagree with the Hong Kong's top court decision not to grant dometic helpers Hong Kong PR status suggest some other countries they can try their luck? Do you know how hard it is to qualify to immigrate to countries like USA, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom....... as a professional candidate? Please go and seek out the requirements needed, be fair to the Hong Kong. If it is do easy, I would ask my American or Canadian.... friends to employ me as dometic helper in their country, sit through the years, and then apply and demand for PR status!
blue
Honestly this was a decent interpretation of the law. The Basic Law clearly states PR is available to ordinary residents. FDH are anything but ordinary.

As superdx plainly put it, FDH take a ton of shortcuts to work in HK. They are not entitled to PR.
blue
I for one am sick of the whinging from some white liberal expats with regards to FDH. I think the reason they love throwing up that race card so much is that for once this doesn't involve "white guilt" and thus they have an opportunity to spread that guilty feeling to Chinese people too.
HK-Explorer
Have you been to Philippines? To the rural parts where most maids come from? I think not.
They would apply in the tens of thousands. They would bring their husbands and kids.
Maids come here because the can earn 5 years salary in 1 year. Living wage? The welfare in HK is 5 times of what they would get in Philippines.
Don't kid yourself they would all apply. Only an idiot would not. Get real. Don't look at them in HK with their churches and meetings in central. They took these jobs to escape abject poverty back home. hK has given them a safe haven. This would never have happened without the stipulation that they cannot get permanent residency.
Domestic helpers are the largest single export that Philippines has.
santini
Although I agree with many items written by our friends in the comment-ariate, I have to say that many of these propositions miss the real point in all this. The people who come to this city ADD to the overall strength of it. This is true regardless of whether they be Philippines maids who have been here for only a few years or poor labourers from Guangdong who arrived 100 years ago. Very FEW among us can claim "native" status here. Diversity and tolerance are the real hallmarks of a "World City" and separate first tier cities like London and New York from all the rest. If these women really want to stay here after 7 years of ironing shirts and scrubbing the floor even after low pay and quiet contempt from their "Madames" and "Mrs." then they will move Heaven and Earth for Hong Kong and should be seen as real assets to Brand Hong Kong.
blue
For starters Canada/europe require you to wait for years just to obtain residency. In HK the process is brisk.
Unlike many countries it's also very simple to obtain PR in Hong Kong.
Finally naturalization IS an option in HK. I am in the process of applying for it now.
HK immigration dept is not racist. Compared to many other immigration departments all around the world, I find them quite reasonable actually.
Shadow
uk/usa/europe/newzealand/ these all i am very clear their system
3 years for PR and + 2 years more and you will have your passport in hand .
Sar after continous 7 years you can make application for elible or not then may b it takes you more than a year to recieve your right of abode id card then passports you never know how many years more no system no check and balance no accountability in sar.
so SAR is simple or others?
blue
For starters Canada/europe require you to wait for years just to obtain residency. In HK the process is brisk.
Unlike many countries it's also very simple to obtain PR in Hong Kong.
Finally naturalization IS an option in HK. I am in the process of applying for it now.
HK immigration dept is not racist. Compared to many other immigration departments all around the world, I find them quite reasonable actually.
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 :-(
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.

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or