• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 7:35am
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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SpeakFreely
Now it is working but not few minutes ago and I found the problem happens very often. It is time to fix it up, remember we are asia world city! As we claimed and u are the top newspaper in Hk. Please invest to improve your capability....
dv82
Oh really?
SpeakFreely
Probably SCMP server and tech are not up to speed. But this is annoying.
blue
"WHERE does it say that in the Basic Law?"
The Basic Law clearly says only ordinary residents can have permanent residency. FDH by definition are not ordinary residents and you'll just gave to deal with it.
Filipinas and Filipinos who marry a local or foreigner holding permanent residency have no problems obtaining PR themselves. Your accusations of racism are totally hollow.
Also FDH are told from the get go that they can not have PR under their immigration status.
It's pretty pathetic that you accuse our judges of being stooges of Beijing just because they didn't rule to your liking. It really reminds me of how some American republicans who accuse some judges of being judicial activists because they upheld some abortion rights law. Get over yourself and respect the judiciary here.
anson888
The rule of law is very alive in Hong Kong.
civil7
CFA's judgment heartbreak the dream of domestic helpers lately.
lamlm38
it was a pipe dream in the 1st plc!!!! no country or city would want to turn itself into a maid city!!! otherwise why would ppl bother to get a college degree n work experience to apply for permanent residency? just be a maid would do :) rolled eyes!!!
rease.92
Don't forget, most Philippine domestic helpers HAVE a college degree, they are accountants, teachers, nurses, etc.
They are even asked by their Chinese employers to break the law and work in their office so that these Chinese can save a few bucks and not need to employ more expensive Chinese clerks.
Domestic helpers are also asked to work as mules, carrying cash across the border. And since they need the job and the money, they often agree. After all, cash is not drugs.
And that cash is then reinvested in China as "foreign direct investment". LOL
HK-Explorer
Heartbreak to their Dream? The only dream was to try and take from HK something they did not deserve. They did not qualify for PR and that was told to them right from the beginning. The whole Dream was built up by domestic helpers who listened to domestic helpers who listened to those who married locals and who said: WOW fight for your rights as a human person. Domestic helpers grabbed onto this and forgot that their contract clearly stated that employment will not lead to permanent residency. Thus the whole fake dream they came up with to live of HK welfare failed and now they are upset.. They were not realistic in their dreaming.
Dream realistically and then they may succeed.
If they had put as much effort into getting the right to live outside an employers home they may have won. HK people are generous and would have agreed to that. But they took the risk and played the game of chance and now end up with nothing. Too greedy.
Giraffe
What a pleasant surprise. The CFA hands down a common sense decision. Name me one country where the government is not allowed to make decisions on immigration and citizenship matters.

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