MANILA BUS TRAGEDY

Lawmaker moves to insert Filipino ban in Hong Kong immigration law

Albert Chan files amendments to law that will serve as sanctions over Manila bus hostage crisis, but must first secure chief executive's support

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 2:47pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 8:56am

People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip yesterday outlined a proposed amendment to the immigration law that would ban new Filipino domestic workers - and eventually all Filipino visitors - from the city until President Benigno Aquino apologises for the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy.

Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, who received the amendments filed early on Friday, promised to seek the government’s advice on Chan’s proposal the same day.

He warned that according to Article 74 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, a lawmaker would need the chief executive’s written consent before he could introduce a bill to change a public policy.

The article also forbids lawmakers from tabling any bill that relates to “the operation of the government”, but Tsang declined to say whether Chan’s bill violated any of these requirements.

[We wanted to introduce rules on] domestic workers from the Philippines to use that as a means to sanction against the Filipino government
Albert Chan, lawmaker

Chan is seeking to change the law in three steps: first, to ban new Filipino domestic helpers starting from April next year; secondly, to stop renewing the entry permits of maids in the city in January 2015; and lastly, to bar all Filipinos from entering Hong Kong starting from July 2015 until the Philippines apologises.

The city has about 160,000 Filipino domestic workers.

Referring to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s promise on November 5 that he would impose sanctions on Manila if it failed to come up with a deal within a month, Chan said “more than 45 days had passed already but the Hong Kong government still hasn’t taken any action.

"[So we wanted to introduce rules on] domestic workers from the Philippines to use that as a means to sanction against the Filipino government. We hope this private member bill will receive support from the administration and the [Legco] president.”

He believes that his proposal needs to signed off by Leung because it seeks a policy change, but he warned that Leung should do so because of his earlier promise about sanctions.

On December 4, Leung hinted that a deal to secure an apology and compensation from the Philippines could be near, and it was taken as an indication that he would not carry through his threat.

While Manila is thought to have agreed to compensation terms and punishment for officials at fault in the tragedy, in which eight Hongkongers died at the hands of sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza, differences over the wording of the apology were holding up progress.

When Chan first publicised his plan in October, his idea was met with reservations by the security minister, some legislators and the family of one of the dead hostages, expressing concerns about the effect on Hongkongers in general.