Hong Kong’s domestic helpers keep homes and the economy running, lawmaker Eunice Yung should know that
I was very disappointed to learn that lawmaker Eunice Yung Hoi-yan of the New People’s Party told the Legislative Council that foreign domestic workers “sit, eat and sleep on the ground [as they congregate in public places during holidays], thus affecting the daily lives of the public”.
From taking care of young children to the elderly, we domestic helpers play a silent role in improving the productivity of Hong Kong’s workforce. We are very much a part of the city’s economy, as we handle the cooking, cleaning, sweeping, mopping, washing, ironing and many more such essential tasks in tens of thousands of households in Hong Kong, so that our employers can go to work.
Because we work six days a week for far lower than the statutory minimum wage, many Hong Kong workers are able to pursue their careers to meet the sky-high cost of living; all because Third World countries send an endless supply of helpers to the city. The convenience our contribution brings enables a majority of you to pursue a life beyond your homes.
Meanwhile, employers continue to resist any attempt to increase our wages to a humanely reasonable level, while continuing to keep us chained to slave-like accommodation arrangements.
Instead of fighting for a measurable improvement in our employment rights, Ms Yung opted to belittle powerless domestic workers. We occupy public spaces only because we have nowhere else to go – in the summer’s heat or winter’s cold.
Why don’t legislators suggest places for helpers to rest, open up common areas managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, build shaded areas in parks, open up more schools – so we don’t become an eyesore for you on your holidays? Why not consider live-out options so we can have somewhere to rest, away from the public eye?
Many in Hong Kong must surely see how Ms Yung’s remark blights the city’s reputation, going against its claims to be “Asia’s world city”.
We, the Muslim Filipino Association of Hong Kong, urge the Hong Kong government to not only remind legislators such as Ms Yung to rethink their stance, but also to actually implement programmes that would ease our plight.
Sharifa Agdigos, chairperson, Muslim Filipino Association