Levy on Foreign Domestic Helpers under the Labour Importation Scheme

I originally did not intend to speak today, but having listened to the speech of Mr CHIM Pui-chung and that of Mr Paul TSE ― mainly the speech made by Mr CHIM Pui-chung, I really doshare their feelings. Hong Kong is a free society where everyone absolutely has the right to express their own views. Even if we may not see eye to eye with each other, we should ensure that nobody is held to ransom, that nobody is threatened and that nobody is attacked.

I believe the Legislative Council of Hong Kong should all the more respect this basic right. If a person vehemently advocates democracy on the one hand but arbitrarily attacks other people or attacks others on the other in a “Cultural Revolution” manner, I think this will be a gross insult to democracy. I did not intend to speak initially, but I very much agree with what the two Members have said today.

I am also new to this Council, and strangely enough, in this Council, if I hold a different view from those of other Members, I would be driven to feel as if I should be ashamed. Why does it have to be like this? I have my own views; I have my reasons, and we made this decision in the long-term interest of Hong Kong. We have given much thought to the matter and we have carefullyconsidered it. We are not shortsighted. Rather, we made the decision after considering the interests of all sectors of the community. We can absolutely answer our conscience in making this decision.

Therefore, I think the Legislative Council must really re-establish an order to ensure that we respect each other and do not bite into others like sharks do. I think we absolutely should respect our colleagues. If we oppose other people’s views, let us just voice our opposition. Why do we have to attack other people? I think this is an entirely wrong culture. I hope that Members, who are persons of integrity, can change this culture from now on.

Moreover, I very much agree with what Mr CHIM Pui-chung said about the issue of Filipino domestic helpers. My Filipino domestic helper often asks me, “Sir, do you have any financial problem? I am worried that you may dismiss me. I have a large family to support and my several children have to go to school and so, I am very worried that I would lose my job.” So, let us not go so far as to create an impression in them as if they are really being exploited in Hong Kong. In fact, we are helping out thousands or even tens of thousand families. An organization under the WTO has conducted a survey ― as also pointed out by Members earlier ― and found that the Philippines relies on the export of domestic helpers as its major source of income. Filipino domestic helpers certainly hope for a reunion with their families back home, but the money thatthey can make from working in Hong Kong is several times higher than what they can otherwise earn in their country. Therefore, it will be a greater help for their families if they come to work in Hong Kong and so, we are actually helping each other. While the children of many Hong Kong people are raised by Filipino domestic helpers, we are helping them to provide support to their families.

Hong Kong is a harmonious society. We must help and support each other in order to ride out the difficulties. Meanwhile, from a world perspective, all countries should also help each other.Mr Paul TSE has a point. The international organization EAIC always holds its meeting in Southeast Asia and towards the end of the meeting, each city will always give a performance on the stage. Although the Filipinos are the poorest, they are most devoted to their performance and always win the grand prize. I have a profound feeling about this, as I do not quite understand why in such a poor country as the Philippines the people can be so happy.Compared with the people in other countries, Hong Kong people have very good conditions. But why do we still have to attack each other, thinking so lowly of ourselves? I think this is a big problem. I have deep feelings about this. So, I cannot help getting this off my chest.

Let me come back to the question under discussion today. First, as I said just now, Filipino domestic helpers are very worried about losing their jobs. They do not think that their wages are low. They are only worried about losing their jobs.

Another point that I wish to make is that this question today has a very important meaning and that is, the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) must be provided with funding and if funding is stopped hastily, serious problems would arise. So, I think it is absolutely necessary to give the Government five years’ time for it to consider whether its operating expenses should be met by other sources or government funding should cease. We should give the community more time to discuss and think about this issue. Therefore, I will certainly oppose Regina IP’s amendment today. I will support the Government’s proposal, but do not think that whoever supports the Government is a bad guy. Why must we be labelled in such a way? I personally consider this view most objectionable.

With regard to the ERB, I hope that the Government will give some consideration to it, because there have been more and more voices expressing concern about public money not being put to good use or being abused by using it as transport allowance. I think government resources must be utilized with great care and so, I hope that the Government can earnestly consider this and seriously review the use of public money.

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