Hong Kong’s ex-security chief and now lawmaker Regina Ip was criticized after she referred to some Filipino domestic helpers as ‘marriage wreckers’ in her op-ed article last Saturday in Ming Pao, a Chinese-language newspaper in the region.
Ip mentioned about ‘families wrecked because of relationships between Filipino maids and male employers.’
“I have received complaints from expatriate women… that Filipino domestic helpers seduce their husband,” she said. “I could only tell them that under the current law, it is quite difficult to regulate.”
Ip also cited a former case of a 15-year-old girl who apparently committed suicide by jumping off their apartment block. The girl’s father was British and her mother was Filipina.
The police, however, dismissed the incident as they said that the girl actually fell and there were no suspicious circumstances.
Still, Herminia Garcia, the mother, was arrested for overstaying and for neglect of the child and Nick Cousins, the father, was bailed for neglect and permitting the overstay.
At present, there has been a growing concern over the series of abuse cases on domestic helpers in Hong Kong, which has about 300,000 maids mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia.
Ip, however, turned her attention on the testimonies of expatriate wives attesting about their helpers having affairs with their husbands.
“Rather than reporting improper behavior by local employers, should we pay more attention to Filipino maids becoming sexual resources for foreign men in Hong Kong,” she asked.
Various rights groups said that Ip’s comments in her article were ‘racist’ and ‘offensive.’
“It is racist to stereotype a particular nationality. She should be banned from entering the Philippines,” said Eman Villanueva of the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body.
Ip’s comments were also regarded as ‘racially discriminatory.’
“Foreign domestic workers are treated as second-hand citizens by some politicians who feel no qualms about making offensive statements about them,” said Claudia Mo of the Civic Party.
In her defense, Ip said that she ‘merely cited some facts.’
“The purpose of the article was to express concerns for foreign domestic workers as to whether they have been exploited… I wasn’t pointing a finger at anyone,” she said.
The Philippine Consulate General, for its part, released an official statement regarding the issue.
“The Philippine Consulate General is concerned about Ms. Ip’s unfortunate choice of words. However, the Consulate General believes that this is not reflective of the general sentiments of the Hong Kong community at large,” the statement said.
The Consulate General also believed that the Filipino domestic workers truly give ‘positive impact on both the quality of life the families concerned as well as the economy of Hong Kong as a whole.’
“Discrimination should have no place in any society, most especially Hong Kong, which prides itself as Asia’s World City,” the statement concluded.