Migrant workers demand public apology from HK lawmaker

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Migrant and local leaders call on LegCo member Eunice Yung Hoi-yan to apologise.

Migrant and local political and labor leaders this morning condemned as “racist” the statement of Legislative Council (LegCo) member Eunice Yung Hoi-yan that migrant domestic workers (MDWs) congregating in public spaces was a “worsening problem” for Hong Kong.

Sringati, the Indonesian spokesperson of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB), said they were demanding a public apology from Yung and would hold a rally on Sunday outside the headquarters of her political party, the New People’s Party, in Wan Chai.

“We demand no less than a public apology from Yung for her racist, discriminatory, and offensive statement targeting the migrant community,” Sringati said in a press conference in Jordan.

“Yung’s group, the New People’s Party, has the reputation of being anti-migrant. We remember it’s prominent leader being called out for summarily judging MDWs as homewreckers,” she added.

New People’s Party chairperson Regina Ip in 2015 was embroiled in a controversy after saying that Filipino domestic helpers were “homewreckers” and being “turned into sexual resources for male foreigners in Hong Kong.” She later apologised.

“Now, a legislator from the same group is prejudicing s as dirty, noisy disturbers of ‘HK people’. It betrays their anti-migrant and exclusionary attitude,” Sringati said.

“Yung’s statement, that MDWs occupying public spaces affect ‘the daily lives of the public, the operation of shops, and the environmental hygiene in public places,’ smacks of ignorance of reality and lack of compassion,” she added.

Yung on Wednesday asked the Hong Kong government what it was doing to address the “worsening problem” of MDWs congregating in public places during their holidays.

“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.

“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.

But Sringati noted that, based on government data, there were only 22 complaints last year against migrant workers congregating in public places.

“What are 22 complaints to the 380,000 MDWs occupying these places the whole year? We do not even occupy these places for the whole Sunday,” Sringati said.

“Besides, we believe that HK already has mechanisms to address said complaints without Yung’s overly dramatic and exaggerated picture of the condition,” she added.

Sringati said Yung was misrepresenting the people when she said that “the public is inconvenienced by MDWs.”

“Which segment of the public? Perhaps she means snobs like her who do not reflect the general character of the Hong Kong people,” Sringati said.

“Instead of expressing genuine concern for the state of MDWs who have to make do with whatever public space is available for us to rest and spend our day-off, she chose to expose her elitist view of MDW’s little enjoyment as an inconvenience and a problem. Such has the mentality of a slave owner,” she added.

Sringati said Yung should “read up” on the plight of MDWs or “go to these public spaces and talk with MDWs and know their concerns and predicaments.”

“She should also listen more to well-intentioned local people. Maybe something good will come out of it,” she said.

“The indisputable fact is MDWs provide immeasurable convenience, care, and peace of mind to hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong households and annually contribute more than a billion dollars’ worth of purchased goods and services to the Hong Kong economy – not to mention the billions of dollars we indirectly contribute yearly to the economy by freeing hundreds of thousands of mothers and fathers from household chores so they can join the local workforce and double their household income,” Sringati added.

Also present during the press conference were Eman Villanueva, chair of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Hong Kong and Macau, Eastern District councillor Mak Tak-ching from the Labour Party, Mung Sin-tat of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Jackie Hung of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, Johannie Tong of the Mission for Migrant Workers, Jaco Chow of the League of Social Democrats, and Sammy Ip of the Civil Human Rights Front.

HK lawmaker Au Nok-hin also sent a recorded audio message calling on Yung to make a public apology for her remarks.

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