HK lawmaker asks govt about ‘worsening problem’ caused by FDHs gathering in public places

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A lawmaker today asked the Hong Kong government what it was doing about the “worsening problem” caused by foreign domestic workers congregating in public places during holidays.

Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yung Hoi-yan said the congregating FDHs during holidays had affected the “the daily lives of the public, the operation of shops, and the environmental hygiene in public places.”

“At present, there are over 350 000 foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong. During holidays, a large number of FDHs congregate in public places, such as parks, footbridge passages and places under flyovers,” Yung said at the LegCo.

“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.

She asked government to provide data on the FDH meeting places, the complaints government had received in the last three years, an update on the government scheme in 1994 to establish FDH centers in premises loaned by seven schools, and if government had a “new thinking’ on how to deal with the issue.

In reply, Labor and Welfare Secretary Law Chi-kwong said various government agencies were coordinating on how to deal with any problem caused by the gathering of FDHs during public holidays.

He added that the Hong Kong government had worked to improve the protection and support of FDHs and ensure that the special administrative region remained an “attractive place” to work in for FDHs.

“Currently, there are almost 380 000 foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) working in Hong Kong. FDHs assist local families in performing household chores and taking care of their children and elderly, thereby unleashing the potential of our local labour force and contributing significantly to Hong Kong’s development,” he said.

Secretary Law also said that the government agencies are also in touch with FDH organizations to address any issue that crops up.

“For instance, there are cases where illegal catering by FDHs has been found in and outside Victoria Park. The Wan Chai District Management Committee, in conjunction with the (various government agencies) distributed leaflets to FDHs in Victoria Park and the nearby areas to remind them not to carry out hawking activities, illegal catering and obstruct public pedestrian walkways,” the labour chief said.

Secretary Law also noted that the Bayanihan Centre in Kennedy Town accommodates up to 1,800 FDHs every weekend and public holidays for their activities.

“The Government has strived to enhance the protection and support for FDHs through various means, such as publicity and educational activities, in order to maintain Hong Kong as an attractive place for FDHs to work in,” he added.

According to government data, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) last year received 22 complaints last year related to the gathering of FDHs in its facilities.

These included obstruction of public places (12), unlicensed hawking (4), noise nuisance (1), suspected gambling in public place (1), sleeping and playing music on the lawn (2),  excessive use of toilet facilities (1), congregating in park (1).

On the other hand, LCSD personnel gave 1,958 verbal warnings for obstruction of public places, 321 for unlicensed hawking, 140 for obstruction to scavenging operations, and four for noise nuisance.

They also gave out 16 penalty tickets for smoking, one for littering and obtained two convictions for selling commodity without permission.

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