Filipino migrants welcome Ip’s apology, call for better treatment

By Lorie Ann Cascaro

HONG KONG — Filipino migrant workers accepted the apology of Hong Kong’s legislative council member, Regina Ip, for her controversial comments on Filipino domestic workers. They also wanted improvements in their conditions and better treatment of all migrant workers here.

GABRIELA Hong Kong, United Filipinos in Hong Kong and BAYAN Hong Kong and Macau said they hope that Ip should avoid discrimination in her speech and writing, in a statement Friday. She shall, instead, “promote the rights of migrants and build a just and inclusive Hong Kong,” they added.

On the same day, Ip issued an apology statement, saying that she did not make the sexist or racist accusations in her article published in Chinese-language newspaper, Ming Pao, on April 17.

She wrote about complaints that she had received from foreign women here against Filipina domestic workers “seducing” their husbands.

She concluded her article by saying, “Beside discussing about the inappropriate behaviors of employers, should foreign media cover more stories of the issues about these Filipino domestic helpers becoming the sex resources of Hong Kong’s male expats?”

The article was posted on her Facebook page and blog that was later removed as reactions sparked, including from the Filipino community.

The sole purpose of the article, she said, “was to raise a question as to whether there is a widespread exploitation of Filipino maids in Hong Kong and to express my concern.”

Ip’s statement followed a protest rally of Filipino groups outside her office on Thursday. The Philippine Consulate General expressed concern over Ip’s “unfortunate choice of words,” adding that it did not reflect the public sentiments, in a statement on April 20.

Hoping that the incident will not happen again, the Filipino groups also challenged Ip to make sure that her apology would reach the broadest number of Hong Kong people.

The groups also wanted the Hong Kong government to enact laws upholding rights of migrant “as women and as workers” and reform policies that “put migrant domestic workers in a condition vulnerable to abuses and discriminatory practices.”

The city has over 173,000 Filipino domestic workers, receiving a monthly salary of 4,110 Hong Kong dollars ($530).

The Hong Kong government requires them to live and work only in their employers’ residences, making them vulnerable for long hours of work and domestic violence and abuse, according to Mission for Migrant Workers.

The Filipino community also call for strong implementation of anti-discrimination ordinances and for multiculturalism education to be “more extensive and intensive.”

They will pursue their planned action on April 26 in Central to echo the “message of non-discrimination and social inclusion throughout Hong Kong.

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