‘Do not demean domestic workers’
CONSUL-GENERAL Antonio Morales urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong to “do their share” in keeping the city clean and orderly.
Morales issued the call as the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) issued a statement saying that Legislative Council (LegCo) member Eunice Yung could have used terms that were “not demeaning” to foreign domestic workers.
Yung was roundly criticized last month for saying that foreign domestic workers congregating in public places were posing a “worsening” problem for Hong Kong.
She later apologized. In his Independence Day message to the Filipino community, Morales called on his compatriots in this former Crown colony to respect its laws and help contribute in improving ties between Hong Kong and Manila.
“We also ask all Filipinos to do their share to contribute to the orderliness and to the cleanliness of Hong Kong in our own little way,” Morales said in his speech at the consulate before Filipino community members on June 12.
“Let’s respect the laws of Hong Kong as we are guests in their country and, in that way, we contribute to good bilateral relations,” he added.
Morales said that there were now 221,000 Filipinos working and living in Hong Kong and their numbers continue to increase.
“We can do our share in improving our country’s relations with Hong Kong. We also pledge to improve our consular services,” he added.
In a statement, the Philippine Consulate General said Yung could have used terms that were â€œnot demeaningâ€ to foreign domestic workers.
“The Consulate General of the Philippines in Hong Kong has taken note of the recent controversial remarks attributed to Ms. Eunice Yung and her subsequent efforts to dialogue with civil society groups,” the PCG said.
“While some of the arguments she posited may have merit and would have stimulated productive discussions to address this important concern, we believe that the same thoughts and ideas could have been expressed more constructively and in terms not demeaning to foreign household service workers in Hong Kong,” it said.
The consulate said it had sought clarification from Yung’s office “as to the context and inherent intentions of her remarks.”
“The Consulate reiterates its position that it will not hesitate to speak out against any position or statement that detracts from the dignity and self-esteem of our nationals, most of whom are foreign household service workers,” the PCG said.
“They do an honest, decent and important work that ensures the well-being of the segment of the Hong Kong community that benefit from their services. Their immeasurable contribution to the economy and the over-all prosperity and stability of the society should be properly acknowledged and their dignity should be preserved,” the consulate added.
Yung got into hot water after telling the LegCo on May 23 that FDHs congregating in public areas during holidays had affected the “the daily lives of the public, the operation of shops, and the environmental hygiene in public places.”
“They sit, eat and sleep on the ground, thus affecting the daily lives of the public, the operation of shops and the environmental hygiene in public places. The problem has persisted for many years and shows a worsening trend,” she added.
Yung later apologised and said she did not intend to offend foreign domestic workers.
Eman Villanueva, Bayan-HK and Macau chair, said the government should address the plight of foreign domestic workers since their numbers are expected to double in the next three decades.
“Ms. Yung’s statement only exposed the very bad conditions that we are in now. It is true that we are staying in public parks but there is a reason behind that—we don’t have our own rooms. Where will we go during our rest days?” Villanueva said.
“So, I think, on one hand, we should also like to thank Ms. Yung. Because of her bad comment, now the attention is on the issue of migrant domestic workers,” he added.