That’s not my phrase. It’s the title of a piece that ran last week over at Asia Sentinel written by Philip Bowring. While I share his overall opinion – that domestic helpers that are here for long enough deserve the right of abode, if they desire it, just like anyone else – I do think he’s taken things a bit far.
The Hong Kong government seems set on ensuring that its ethnocentric instincts trump the rule of law.
Is it just the Hong Kong government? Or is it all of China? Racism is embedded deeply within various aspects of Hong Kong’s laws. As a non-Chinese permanent resident of Hong Kong, if I wish to have a Hong Kong passport, I have to give up my United States citizenship. On the other hand, a US-born person who is ethnic Chinese does not face the same restrictions. But I digress.
Bowring seems to be purposefully trying to fan the flames with this type of rhetoric:
The government could well argue that few helpers, regardless of their length of stay, have actually made Hong Kong their home. But to do would imply that they would have to apply the same criteria to the bankers, teachers etc, most of whom keep their main residence in Europe, North America. Not being low-paid brown Asians, these people get a free pass on what constitutes “home”.
The thing is that you will see this sort of thing on blogs and hear it in bars but I’ve always thought that Asia Sentinel sought to be seen as a legitimate news outlet and I think that they should be treading a bit more carefully or at least a bit more artfully.
Others have suggested that the whole purpose behind this is that our incredibly unpopular non-elected government is seeking some common theme in which it can unite the people, distracting peoples’ attention away from the miserable work that the government has done, uniting the population against a common enemy within. This article makes no such claim. If this was indeed true, it would be Donald Tsang following the example set by the Nazis and honestly, I don’t believe our government is that deeply evil … or that smart.
At least Bowring puts his name to the article. You know who he is and you know how to get in touch with him. Many of the 27 (so far) commenters, comfortably anonymous with their nicknames and non-disclosed contact information, have taken this article as an opportunity to rant, often on the pro-government anti-maid side. The very first comment includes these lines:
We need educated or rich immigrants. … If you are not rich or not educated, GET OUT!
The next comment raises the incorrect point:
Any country with a proper set of immigration laws would seriously debate this topic, UK and US included.
But then concludes, probably correctly:
The backlash would likely be limitation of employment visa for domestic helpers to not more than 7 years.
Another one simply parrots the government line:
… there would be a massive influx of 120000 maids (not including their spouse and children) into Hong Kong to enjoy , said more honestly, is depriving of our welfare, not regard of education, medical system , housing and so on.
It’s simple-minded because those 120,000 maids are already here. I don’t know what welfare this person is referring to. They already have a right to our medical system and they can’t afford 99% of HK housing on a salary of roughly HK$3,800 per month. It is unknown how many of the 120,000 would actually seek right of abode here – my guess being as good as yours, I’ll say far less than half, and then only a certain percentage of those might seek to bring family members over. And how would they do that? I’m not about to let my helper bring her teenage son here to live in my house. So where would he live and how would she support him?
Anyway, excerpts from some other comments, many of them racist in one direction or another:
The Filippinos and Vietnamese need to protect their culture and properties by expel all the chinese diaspora from their countries deem as a threat to their nation regardless how long they have live there. America need to execute some chinese as traitors to set good examples to chinaman for stealing secrets to china like Greg Donfang and Mak Chi.
I can’t wait for Beijing to demonstrate to Hong Kong courts that their facade of judicial independence is a farce and that Hong Kong is blood red commie pissing pot through and through.
About human right? How about nation right?
The British Empire is the greatest drug-dealer in the history of mankind. British got very rich selling drugs. So for white civilization that relies on drug dealing, slave labor and invading land of natives with ample resources count as the true civilization?
Tell the Chinese to go back to China if they don’t like it. Philippinos are here to stay.
I’m so glad multicuturalism is finally going to happen here. Hong Kong is going to be a philippino dumpster
I suspect that this “drama” will play out as expected – even HK’s higher courts will find no legal basis for excluding domestic helpers from permanent residence. Hong Kong will then helplessly turn to Beijing for a “reinterpretation” and Beijing will come down on the side of “China for Chinese.” Donald Tsang will be gone in a year and in his place will be another incompetent nincompoop who got appointed to the job merely because he was willing to bend the knee to Beijing.
In the meantime, Mr. Bowring, if you’re reading this (which I doubt), if you want to commence a more serious debate on this issue, then you should have chosen your words more carefully and not tossed around allegations so much. (Of course I’m the last person to claim any expertise in that area.)
And now, commenters, go nuts attacking me if that will make you feel better.