• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 8:47am
NewsHong Kong

Myanmese maids drawn into row over Manila hostage siege

Lawmaker to lobby Myanmese officials to let workers come to the city in bid to push the Philippines to apologise for 2010 tragedy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 1:58pm

A Liberal Party lawmaker is lobbying Myanmese officials to allow maids from the former British colony to work in Hong Kong in a bid to put pressure on the Philippine government over the Manila hostage killings.

Textiles and garment sector lawmaker Felix Chung Kwok-pan, who is involved in the building of a "garment industrial park" in Myanmar, wants Myanmese workers to provide an alternative to Filipino maids. He will discuss the idea with the country's consul general on Tuesday.

Chung's move came a day after radical pan-democratic group People Power said it would seek a law revision to ban Filipino domestic helpers from working in the city until Manila apologises for the bungled rescue which ended the siege three years ago, in which eight Hongkongers died.

"At the moment it's hard to support a ban on Filipino maids as we don't have much alternative in the market," said Chung. "But the situation will change if we have [other options].

"We can never replace all Filipino maids with Myanmese ones, but at least we can send a strong message to the Philippines - stop being so arrogant."

Chung added that the average monthly salary of Myanmese skilled workers was just US$100 a month, meaning their potential earnings in Hong Kong would be five or even 10 times that.

Joseph Law, chairman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association, said he thought Myanmese would fit into Hong Kong families easier than the Bangladeshi maids who have been hired in the city since May this year.

Filipino and Indonesian maids account for about 95 per cent of the foreign domestic helpers in the city, said Law.

"The situation is very unhealthy and dangerous - especially when Indonesia has said it will stop exporting maids in 2017," he said.

Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, vice-chairwoman of the General Chamber of Manpower Agencies, said maid agencies had been in contact with the Myanmar consulate for several years about bringing in Myanmese to work as domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

"The Hong Kong government actually allows it. But Myanmar's government has refused," said Liu, whose chamber represents about 90 agencies in the city.

Myanmar's government only allows its people to work overseas as "skilled workers" but not as "domestic helpers", Liu said.



For unlimited access to:

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



This article is now closed to comments

Why must we constantly be embarrassed by explicit racists purporting to represent us? Do Hong Kong politicians really not understand the nature of racism nor its consequences? When an entire people is held accountable for the actions of a few then that is racism. Hong Kong politicians, you are not the PRC, the US or any great power, you cannot threaten other people with economic sanctions and expect our Hong Kong to come out of it smelling of roses. Your arrogant and threatening posture towards others you would not dare do yourselves if HK was an independent nation. It is not. Could you please be quiet and allow more rational, civilized and experienced statesman from Beijing the opportunity to solve this problem? You are a disgrace to the people of Hong Kong, to the cause of universal suffrage, and to the case of Hong Kong being able to govern itself maturely.
Like I said in another comment. Please go ahead HK. The Filipino people will thank you for banning Filipino maids in Hong Kong. We have had enough of discrimination, racism, and abuse for honest work. For years, Filipino maids DIED or ended up disabled and maimed by abusive Hong Kong employers yet we did not demand apologies from you. We did not demand apologies from you when one of our tourists, a KID, was victimised by acid attacks in your shopping district. We did not force Beijing to apologise for a knife attack against a family of Filipino tourists in Tiananmen Square. You are a joke. So go ahead. Please ban us from Hong Kong. :)
not happy with phils govt, ban the helpers. Not happy with Indonesia, ban the helpers. Ban mainlanders, but their money is welcomed. Now, turn to the burmese. See the trend ?
Get off your high horse HK, the world doesnt evolve around you, neither does it it you.
President Aquino has no balls and doesn't have a clue on how to counter the blatant racism of Hong Kong. He should immediately recall ALL the Filipina helpers to return to thei homes in the Philippines and let the Hong Kongers clean their own toilets and bring their own children to school. This would IMMEDIATLY impact the HK economy - which is all these racists really care about. in around 2 weeks Legco would be begging Aquino to send back the helpers. that would be Mr. Aquino's chance to then negotiate a fair settlement for the bus victims in return for a fair wage increase for domestic helpers. Problem solved!
Like I replied to your other comment, yes, stand up for your nationals. Why wait on the whims of the Hong Kong legislators? Your indignation indicates that thirty years of toiling in Hong Kong does not outweigh the economic benefits of feeding, clothing, sheltering and providing an education for their families in the Philippines. Aquino should show his "cojones" by not just recalling and banning Filipina helpers but sending planes to rescue them as well before it's "too late". Without a doubt, once home, jobs with equal salary must be secured for all returnees. Yes, pin your hopes on Aquino to make things right unless there's another "cultural" disparity we are not aware of. :)
What makes Myanmese more suitable than Bangladeshi maids? Is it because they're not as dark skinned? This whole fiasco is turning into a showcase of rampant racism..
I understand that some of them already know how to cook Chinese food and some even know Mandarin.
What a surprise, Felix Chung Kwok-pan has business interests in Myanmar.
Who isn't sick of these ignorant, unethical racists?
Yes, please ban all Filipino DH in HK. I should be most grateful if the law is passed as soon as possible.
Greetings from Boracay.
I cannot link the employment of Myanmese maids to the hostage incident. In true HK style we should allow helpers from different countries to compete for employment as domestic helpers so its really a supply and demand issue. Politicising the issue does no good for the image of HK. As Beijing is now getting involved I doubt the Filipino Government will wish to slight CY and his men again. Aquino is caught in a predicament. He cannot backtrack and apologise lest he feels the wrath of his countrymen but he cannot afford to antogonise Beijing. Just offer a reasonable compensation package to the families of the injured and deceased and be done with it. This will allow them to get on with their lives especially where some families have lost their sole breadwinners. This may not be entirely satisfactory but since the tragic event had occurred for more than 3 years its time to move on. Emphasis should be placed on those still living.
BMR: My name is Sam. I'm assisting in some research on racism in HK and you sound like a very well-informed, balanced not to mention sensible person. Is there any chance I could interview you for research purposes to talk about your general views? If so, please email me at bowlhead@gmail.com Many thanks indeed.


SCMP.com Account