May 20 2013

Who are you? The Maid?

One particular item I have neglected to comment on in the last couple of months, primarily because I have been rather busy, and also America has been involved recently in Benghazi! Benghazi! BENGHAZI! ( one of the series of non scandals that is warming the hearts of the moron class in America)-something a lot worse happened in my second favorite city in the world.

Hong Kong's top court has ruled that domestic workers are not eligible to apply for permanent residency, ending a two-year battle that has split opinion.

The case had centred on Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a maid from the Philippines who has worked in Hong Kong for more than 17 years.

Domestic workers had argued that denying them permanent residency was unconstitutional.

The ruling has implications for Hong Kong's 300,000 domestic workers.

These workers come mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia, often spending years in the territory.

"The FDH [foreign domestic helper] is obliged to return to the country of origin at the end of the contract and is told from the outset that admission is not for the purposes of settlement and that dependents cannot be brought to reside in Hong Kong," the Court of Final Appeal said in a written judgment.

Ms Vallejos was "speechless but calmly resigned", her lawyer, Mark Daly said.

The decision was not a surprise. Hong Kong's Chinese middle and upper class population had been vehemently opposed to the idea.  All kinds of straws were grasped at by various folks in Hong Kong's power structure to justify their opposition to allow the "vermin" to enjoy basic rights that are actually written into Hong Kong's Basic Law. Regina Ip stated that the government would have to allocate more resources to deal with the increased workload resulting from right of abode applications by domestic workers. 

Hemlock kind of summed up the Chinese attitude well-but don't ever call them racist:

Middle class spared need to wash own dishes

To no-one’s great surprise, the Court of Final Appeal rejects foreign domestic helpers’ claim to right of abode in Hong Kong. This is a story with several very distinct angles.




There’s a subliminal nationalism angle. Most of the helpers concerned are from the Philippines. The Philippines is a joke country; it is the Asian nation China can most easily bully, but it is also the one most likely to mishandle or overreact to intimidation. From Beijing’s point of view, it is appropriate that Hong Kong keeps Filipinos in their place. To Manila, this case could be a reminder that the most demeaning treatment Filipinos receive is from their own country’s incompetent leadership, which leaves them with no option but to migrate – but it probably won’t.

There’s the principles vs populism angle. The government was desperate to get this result because of overwhelming public opposition to allowing Filipino maids’ kids into Hong Kong (as with Mainland mothers, subject to a separate court case). This is the same government that constantly tells us that we have a pressing demographic crisis that can only be solved through a boost in the number of children – and that we shouldn’t discriminate against brown people and Mainlanders.

And that leads to a cultural and racial angle, summed up by the New York Times, which asks if Hong Kong will embrace a more multi-ethnic future. As with legal systems and age demographics, this case highlights Hong Kong’s values schizophrenia. On the one hand, the city is supposed to be part of the People’s Republic of China, with the national anthem on TV and smiling patriotic schoolchildren – sons and daughters of the dragon – waving red flags to greet visiting Chinese astronauts and Olympians. On the other hand, the city fancies itself as a diverse melting pot like New York or London, attracting the brightest and the best from around the world, as indeed it must if it is to maintain the region’s biggest clusters of financial, legal, technical and other skills. In practice, much of Han Hong Kong is insular, culturally solidly Chinese and fears external competition, while a smaller part of the ethnic Chinese populace are cosmopolitan and, often, Western-educated. The first group are in Beijing’s eyes surely the ‘politically correct’ population; the second group plus some non-Chinese are what keeps the place ticking. It is a contradiction Hong Kong government officials can’t resolve, so they wing it.

It is rather interesting, what with the faux outrage going on in the US about the supposed mistreatment of women in the service-and the so called glass ceiling-very little attention is given to these women; who actually live-in some cases-with REAL harassment; A REAL hostile work environment; and a wage that is well less than what their services can and should be on the open market. Yet not a peep is heard from the US feminists about it-afraid to show solidarity with the sex, I suppose. And worse yet- the Philippine Government is so inept that they create the conditions by which literally over 5 million Filipinos have to work overseas. As I have pointed out before-it should be a national embarrassment to the country. But somehow successive Philippine governments never get around to recognizing that.

Spike pointed out a while back that the decision fails a test of reasonableness-both for being against Hong Kong's Basic Law- and that it doesn't pass any test of basic fairness and decency:

So that’s legal. But is it fair? Each of these women who sued for resident status has been living and working in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. If they lose their jobs, they have an insanely short period in which to either find a new job or get out of the country – even when they’ve been here for decades.

Even if they have family back in the Philippines or Indonesia, they see that family perhaps once a year, perhaps only once every other year. They have essentially given up their lives to work a six day work week.  They’re on call 18 hours a day and usually have a curfew on their day off. They receive well under US$500 per month in salary (much more than they can earn in their home countries) plus room and board. In return they are an important component of Hong Kong’s economy. They enable two-income families, the only way the average Hong Konger can afford a 500 square foot shitbox from Li Ka-Shing or Sun Hung Kai.  

Opponents of giving residence status to domestic helpers use fear tactics.  Hong Kong will suddenly have 300,000 new permanent residents, all of whom will quit their jobs and live off welfare.  (What welfare?)  Others say that they should have no right to resident status because they never paid Hong Kong income tax, which ignores the fact that their salaries are too low to qualify to pay.

So there’s legal and there’s what’s fair and the two are often not the same.


I have a soft spot in my heart for these women-who deal with a lot; who have children they seldom see; hope for a better future; and in some cases get treated really badly. I think Spike is really right here-the masters in Beijing just want to bide their time and destroy everything unique about Hong Kong bit by bit.

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8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Who are you? The Maid?”

  1. Richardon 21 May 2013 at 6:56 am

    I had posited the idea of retiring to the Phillipines(among other possibilities) and had done quite a lot of research. There has been an incredible surge of population, some women having ten or more children and evidently "marriage" in the Phillipines is "flexible" with men taking little or no resposnibilty for their children. The girtls/women are inculcated wuth an obsession to take care of their"families", no matter what.

    They carry an incredible emotional and financial burden.

    To be a Filipino women must be hell on earth.

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  2. Skippy-sanon 21 May 2013 at 8:07 am

    Also-I would submit it is driven into Filipino women by the Catholic Church ( which as you know has convinced the country to not have divorce or abortion) that is their duty to pump out kids. Lots of houskeepers in HK are seperated with kids back in the PI-but they have not interacted with the father in years.

    And they get lonely-which is what keeps the dating sites and the New Makati in business. Which is a good thing. 😉

    BTW-have you looked into the Malaysia My Second Home program? I am considering that as a retirement option. ( The S.O. goes apoplectic whenever I do).

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  3. Richardon 21 May 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, Malaysia and Thailand, even Vietnam,Cambodia and Laos as well as Cuenca Ecuador and Nicaragua……..anyway the list is about twenty counties, of course with the requisite pros and cons.

    Japan and Korea, for ME, are just to damn expensive!!!!!!!!!

    though I do miss "homemade" kimchi which I THINK still exists in the countryside?

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  4. Mauriceon 22 May 2013 at 12:43 am

    There is a web site called "retire in Thailand" that a friend showed me that lists why one would want to retire there.  It was pretty interesting and you dollar can go a long way.  I imagine that in about 5 years, once the corporate/government complex starts really gearing up in Burma, that will become another place to retire.

    To be a Filipino women must be hell on earth.

    A chief that once worked for me told me this:  "The best Filipina woman to have is one that was brought up in an orphanage."  That way you don't have to worry about trying to feed the entire family on your salary.

    The problems with the PI can be found similar to China and Japan to a point.  Social engineering and "do gooders" want to try to make society fit their agenda, and they don't fully see the unintended consequences.  As Skippy stated, the Catholic church keeps the poor that way by not really looking at the family planning aspect.  So which is worse, using a condom or a pill for birht control, or just having sex and having a child without any support from the father, and being forgiven for your sins.  To me what's the difference.  You are going to consign a child born into poverty just because you feel a certain way on abortion or birth control.  A person I know who sold narcotics was able to make a lot of money not selling to those on the good side of town, but to the bums and addicts who would steal just to get enough ($5) to buy a hit.  This guy was really full of money compared to me with a college degree and being a Naval officer, just selling to poor people who can't afford it.  Same thing with the Catholic church in the PI and America with this immigration push.  Poorer people tend to donate more than those who become middle class.  Case in point, a church in the northern part of my home state (AR) was going broke because the white middle class Catholics were only going to mass once a week, and membership was dropping.  Once they started brining more illegals into the area to work the chicken farms and plants, the same church had to expand it's mass services to more services a week, and now had money to expand and build.  Pennies from more poor people seem to add up.  The same thing in the PI.

    China, as a result of the "One Child" has an imbalance of males to females, again the product of social "do gooders" putting their noses in places it doesn't belong.  There are enough places where the maids can find work, I say all of them just leave, and let the Chines start doing their own laundry for a change.  Things will change soon.

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  5. Skippy-sanon 22 May 2013 at 1:14 am

    Actually, Maurice, if the Philippine government would just work-they could wipe the map with China. What I have never understood, in a country with hot women who speak English, have a good work ethic, and are quite sensual (A good thing;-) ) that they cannot establish themselves as a buisness capital. Instead they hail the OFW as "heros".

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  6. Richardon 22 May 2013 at 8:56 am


    Thank you.

    My best friend has lived there for over 40 years and even was a Buddhist monk for three years.

    He is a devout, celibate ,Buddhist (and lives a very frugal lifestyle) so over the years, I have been able to get some good information from him. and even though he loves Thailand and considers it his home he is not blind to the problems there and shares his thoughts on the culture etc etc.

    Chieng Mai, Chieng Rai and Hua Hin(full of swedes as it maybe) SEEM to be the IN place to retire to for us farang, if we so deign. is a decent site but it caters mostly to "mongers". Its weekly column and readers submissions are sometimes informative.

    And just a pendatic aside, yaba (meth) is rampant in Thailand. Drug sellers even give "free samples" to elementary school kids to get them addicted early and of course ALL the bar girls are stoners. and there is always the "buffalo tax" that a farang has to pay his wife/girlfriend for her "family" Those damn buffalo seem to die at an alarming rate!!!!


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  7. Mauriceon 22 May 2013 at 6:29 pm

    @ Richard:  I watch the show "Once Upon A Time" that comes on ABC in the states I think, and one of the recurring themes in the story seems to be "Magic has a price."  When you use it you need to be aware that it comes with price, so you should be careful what you wish for.  I guess that holds true with retiring to a place like Thailand or others like it.  It comes with a price.  Whether it is a "buffalo tax" or having the need to have an armed guard in the PI, you have to be careful what you wish for.

    Skippy:  You are right on the PI.  I once met a girl in a bar in Singapore, and I thought she was a Filipina, and I tried to speak some Tagalog to her.  She got mad at me for accusing her to be a Filipina.  She said (these are her own words) that they consider Filipinas the "N-word" or the orient.  She has not been the only person who has told me that.  It seems all they are viewed is as maids and hookers.

    Like you I place the blame fully on the PI givernment and the ruling class.  All of the resources and hard workers there, and a few just got too greedy and screwed it up for all.  Gloria Aquino, hailed as a reformer was just as bad.  The other female president Arryo, made the insane comments about why people should not be on birth control because she said it caused her headaches, and it should not be there for the poor people, yet I am sure that she has the means to take care of her kids and was using birth control, yet the poor can't get any type of family planning that is credible.

    For the record, I am not particularly a fan of abortion, but I no so silly to say that a woman shouldn't have one if she wants to.  That is going to be up to her and her maker to deal with.  I ask you what is worse.  Not having a child by terminating the pregnancy early, or having one, and subjecting it to a life of poverty of living in a dump, and when they grow up the only way to make it in the world is to either go work in a foreign country for a pittance as a maid, or to work on your back as a bar girl or "benny boy."  To me that is a greater sin to a child, and yet the PI government and the Church just keeps them in poverty, for their own moral self-rightousness and not really looking at the needs of the people.

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  8. where to buy tomson 28 May 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Your article Far East Cynic » Who are you? The Maid? write very well, thank you share!

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