Thursday, 4 August 2011

Statement on the issue of Right of Abode for Qualified Foreign Domestic Workers

Statement of the Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body (AMCB) on the issue of Right of Abode for Qualified Foreign Domestic Workers

4 August 2011

Uphold the rights of migrant workers
Condemn racial hatred, discrimination and xenophobia

To fight for the right of abode is to fight against discrimination and social exclusion.

Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong have long been denied of this right. Even if the Basic Law does not exclude foreign maids from seeking permanent residency, Hong Kong’s immigration policies have circumvented this basic right to prevent FDWs from obtaining the right of abode.

The Hong Kong government prides itself for upholding the rule of law. Obviously for the government, this does not apply to the rights of FDWs.

The denial of right of abode to FDWs also transgresses international conventions that seek equality of treatment regardless of race, gender or social standing. Agreements such as the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families, Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Conventional for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women are just some of the human rights standards that are violated with the continued denial of right of abode to FDWs.

Social exclusion and discrimination are social sicknesses that stem from and reinforced by government policies. FDWs have been, for long, at the receiving end of this disease as shown by the exclusion of FDWs from the Statutory Minimum Wage, the New Conditions of Stay

We condemn the politicians and parties who paint doomsday scenarios if the right of abode is applied to FDWs who seek such. How can upholding this right be destructive to Hong Kong when a just society can only be built and really prosper when the collective rights of people – enshrined in national laws such as the Basic Law and international human rights agreements – are respected?

FDWs are productive parts of the HK society. We contribute to the economic, social, cultural and political development in Hong Kong. We are not parasites who drain resources and burdens Hong Kong. We earn our keep and we are integral part of Hong Kong households and the general society.

The false and exaggerated statistics of FDWs and families ‘flooding’ Hong Kong are but baseless assumptions that only fan xenophobia and racial hatred. It is not FDWs getting permanent residency that should be feared, but the chaos that may arise from the provocative statements issued by some politicians and the Hong Kong government itself. In these times, some of the most hateful of crimes – such as the recent terror attack in Norway – have been committed under the ideology of racism and xenophobia against migrants and immigrants.

Migrant workers have shown our solidarity to the people of Hong Kong. In times of crisis, migrants joined actions to call for meaningful reforms that will benefit all people in Hong Kong. When the August 23 hostage tragedy happened in Manila, migrant workers were some of the first to condemn what happened, condoled with the families of victims, and called for justice.

We condemn those who create racial hatred among the people. Such ideology makes it appear acceptable to treat FDWs as second- or even third-class citizens of Hong Kong. It makes it appear permissible to commit various kinds of abuses to foreign maids. It makes it appear natural to reduce FDWs to modern-day slaves and creates the thinking that the rights of migrants can be selectively given or arbitrarily denied.

At the core of the issue of allowing qualified FDWs to get the Right of Abode is the struggle against discrimination of migrant workers.

We stand by the rights of migrants. We appreciate the pro-migrant politicians, local groups and individuals who have expressed their support to uphold non-discrimination and human rights and resist attempts for the discrimination of FDWs to persist in Hong Kong society.

AMCB will continue to stand for the rights of migrants and the people. Only if the people’s rights – all of the people in Hong Kong – are respected can Hong Kong be a humane society. #

For more information contact:

Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body (AMCB)
Tel no(s): (852) 3156-2447, 2314-7316
Fax no: (852) 2735-4559

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