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.