Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Walang Pilipinos: Hong Kong and Blatant Racism

Asia Sentinel

Appellate court denies permanent residency to domestic workers
The judges of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal have surrendered to their own self interest in refusing the rights of foreign domestic workers to apply for permanent residence. 

The five judges ruled unanimously Monday against Philippines appellants Evangeline Banao Vallejos and Daniel Domingo, who argued that foreign domestic workers should have the same right to permanent Hong Kong residency as white-collar expatriates after working in the territory for seven years.

In a case which set natural justice and the simple, direct language of Hong Kong's Basic Law or mini-constitution, against political pressures, the judges could well also be accused of rank racism.

The government was threatening to take the case to Beijing's National People's Congress for an interpretation of the Basic Law should the judges rule against the government's insistence that the foreign domestic workers had no right even to apply for permanent residence, let alone to be granted it. So the bench, in unison, and in order to prevent the government undermining its authority, opted instead to undermine basic principle of justice.

They resorted to the typical lawyer trick of pretending that plain words did not actually mean what they said but something entirely different and supposedly in the minds of those who drafted the Basic Law two decades ago.

The law very simply states that anyone who has been ordinarily resident in Hong Kong for more than seven years has the right to apply for permanent residence. Whether they get it or not then depends on the degree of commitment to Hong Kong they can show. These tests have been very lenient and almost anyone with the seven year qualification could receive it. Indeed that remains the case with the assorted foreign bankers, chefs, forex traders and Pilates instructors etc who receive that right and thus can only be expelled for some heinous offense.

However, the word-twisting judges have deemed that somehow foreign domestic workers cannot be deemed "ordinarily resident" in Hong Kong, however long they live there, despite the fact that they are in regular employment and are only entitled to have holidays outside the territory for two weeks every two years. Anyone else can be outside Hong Kong for two months a year and still qualify.

The difference between the two categories of workers, domestic and all others, is not actually one of income or ability. It is primarily one of race. Thus the judges, all Chinese or Caucasians, deem all the domestic workers to be of a lower species of humanity. All of them are brown skinned people from other parts of Asia, mainly from Indonesia and Philippines plus a few from Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. Mainland Chinese are not allowed to become such workers because it would condemn them to this lower status and so would be unthinkable to the authorities.Read more.

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