• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 10:18pm
Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong
NewsHong Kong

Four in five maid agencies operate without licenses from Indonesia

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 11:39am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 4:44pm

Only about 200 of 1,000 foreign domestic helper agencies in Hong Kong have obtained licenses from the Indonesian consulate to bring in maids from the country, an agencies' representative said on Tuesday.

Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, vice-chairwoman of the General Chamber of Manpower Agencies, said these agencies needed to get a licence from the Hong Kong government to run businesses. But she said it was very easy to get one.

“You need to have an office and you cannot have criminal records...but some people manage to get a licence even if their offices are their home,” Liu said.

A bigger problem is the agencies are not required to get a licence from the Indonesian consulate under Hong Kong’s law, Liu said.

The consulate has a stricter set of licensing standards, such as requiring agencies to arrange a boarding house for domestic helpers to gather on their day-offs, and a translator to help the agencies communicate with the workers.

“The government should not let them run businesses in Hong Kong if they do not have licence from the consulate,” she added.

Liu was speaking in a radio programme after police arrested a 44-year-old woman who allegedly tortured Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, 23, on Monday. Erwiana is currently being treated in a hospital at her hometown in Indonesian.

Organising secretary Leo Tang Kin-wah of the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Union, said it was time the government took the responsibility of protecting foreign domestic workers.

The government should offer boarding houses for workers who escape from abuse so they have a temporarily place to stay while waiting for results of police investigations, Tang said.

He also called on the government to abolish a rule that requires workers to live with their employers, saying the rule makes the workers difficult to escape when they are abused.

But Liu said this would not work as the employers could not afford the extra rent.



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This article is now closed to comments

This is only one shameful example of the Government's failure to protect domestic helpers in HK. They allow totally unscrupulous finance companies to make loans to these vulnerable people at the astounding rate of 59.9% per annum - which is LEGAL in HK! Why has the Moneylenders Ordinance not been reviewed to prevent such abuse?
This is the fault of both the Hong Kong and Indonesian Governments. If both were able to work together effectively then these non-official agents could be put out of business. They should both agree that agents need a licence to operate in HK (placement) and Indonesia (recruitment). One licence issued by both countries with heavy penalties uniformly enforceable in both HK and Indonesia would soon deal with these vultures. At the same time licence holders would need to undertake not to exceed the amount a maid could owe to an agent.
Good point Dao-Phooy.
Hong Kong is a free market economy so there are no regulations. But no regulation means that the powerful are free to exploit the poor.
That is so naive of you "do_the_right_thing". HK economy is NOT a free market - there are cartels/oligarchies in almost every sector.
The government just does not do anything - that is why it is so-called "free economy". Inaction and incompetence are not the indicators of free market economy.
The Heritage Foundation could not be more proud


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