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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 2:01am
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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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
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
rease.92
A judge shall never be influenced by politics. That's why there should never be youthful judges. Judges need compassion and common sense, and considerable life experience. Judges shall never bow to political parties.
oxymoron19
Wrong. Judges are human not robots. They act out their verdicts based from knowledge of law and rational that govern the body of law but nonetheless they are subconsciously operated by emotions and personal paradigms. Every person who is in flesh has their own set of politics and many hide them quite well.
wwong888
amazing scmp can't even code a comment section properly
johnyuan
I think most Hong Kong citizens have no choice when come to the dependency on domestic helpers whereby a spouse/parent’s income is ten times or more than paying a domestic helper. Too, the middleclass has no alternative giving small and expansive housing that sleeping on kitchen floor by helpers seems normal. Too, picnic on city pavements is normal. Hong Kong government made laws to assure a condition that foreign domestic helpers don’t bear children in Hong Kong to claim for right-of-abode. Without those laws, too government’s land policy will collapse. So all in all, modern Hong Kong citizens live in human tragedy both to themselves and others just because of land and property being manipulated in the privileged hands of a few.
China is halting in the mainland the unsustainable land and property development that exported from Hong Kong.
superdx
Where are the rest of the comments lol
rease.92
Then there is only one thing to do:
Change the residence status of FDH to "Ordinary residence". Then, as ordinary residents they can apply for permanent residency.
blue
I totally agree. A lot of HK people don't seem to realize how good they have it.

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