Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hong Kong needs to recognize sacrifices of migrant workers

Letter-writer Mr. Kingsley Smith (The Economist, Aug. 4) wrote to praise Hong Kong for its continued economic progress. However, it has failed to recognize the thousands of domestic helpers from the Philippines and Indonesia, who somehow contributed to Hong Kong's economic development for many decades now. Before the eyes of Hong Kong government, the migrant workers, who have been living under tight restrictions, are eyesores in its society.

Of all places in Asia, discrimination is a problem that haunts the memories of migrant workers, whose only objective in life is to earn an honest living, doing servitude to people who seemed to be stone-hearted and insensitive to accepted humanitarian virtues. This only happens in Asia, which is supposed to be for Asians, except that Hong Kong, an autonomous region of China, is not part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Nobody is certain if it is still dreaming of being the Crown Colony that it once was after it was occupied and developed by Britain for many decades before it relented to China's wishes a couple of years back.

Instead of reciprocating the good deeds of these hapless servants, the Hong Kong government has been observed to be callous and insensitive to the demands of the domestic helpers to at least improve their plights in the servitude of people who find fulfillment and satisfaction at the sufferings of other people, not their own. Perhaps, it is only fitting that foreign servants should be given the option to become residents, after staying for a required number of years. And who wouldn't like to stay in Hong Kong, knowing its progress that continues to attract millions of tourists from around the world. And for many domestic helpers, working in the former Crown Colony is much better than to try their luck in the Middle East, where cultural traditions and religion make it doubly difficult for them to adjust and enjoy their time.

The only difference now is whether the Hong Kong government is still considering the idea of crafting a labor policy that would give equal protection to migrant workers. Otherwise, discrimination will continue to be a pain in the asses of those whose only dream is to improve their lives through sacrifices and loneliness in a foreign land.

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