Thursday, August 18, 2011

Permanent residency for maids

Should foreign domestic workers (mainly Filipino and Indonesian maids) be allowed to apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong after working here for 7 years?  On the principle of equality, they should.  If Americans, Canadians, Australians, etc., who have worked in Hong Kong for 7 years can apply for permanent residency, why shouldn’t Filipinos be allowed to do so? 

Some cite the problems of large numbers of Filipinos who may then want to move to Hong Kong.  The Hong Kong Employers of Domestic Helpers Association claimed that the number can be as many as 400,000 domestic helpers and their family members.  That is quite certainly scaremongering.  The method that was apparently used to come up with those numbers did not look scientific at all.  Why doesn’t someone conduct a scientifically-sound study of this issue, since this estimate seems to be an important factor in the controversy?

If the number of potential immigrants is really large, indeed it may pose serious problems.  But even then there are ways to deal with that problem.   Many countries have established quotas, priority systems, selection criteria based on their own manpower needs, etc., to handle those problems.  Perhaps this is a good occasion for Hong Kong to clearly debate and articulate our own philosophy and policies on immigration. 

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