November 04, 2005

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Missing the point but hitting the foot

It seems Hong Kong overflows with organisations who's sole purpose is to act as a front for its "President" or "Chairman". There's David Akers-Jones's mob, for one. Another would be Dolores Ballabares' United Filipinos in Hong Kong. Doug Crets tells us Dolores has engaged her mouth without her brain.

The Asian Migrants Coordinating Body and the United Filipinos in Hong Kong - local organizations that assist migrants - announced Thursday the beginning of month-long protests that they hope will "junk the WTO."

According to Dolores Ballabares, chairwoman of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, up to 5,000 migrant workers will next week turn the SAR into a carnival of parades, singalongs, door- to-door protests and street-corner teach-ins. "As migrants, we are calling to junk the WTO, because we believe it affects domestic workers and our profession here in Hong Kong," Ballabares said..."What the Hong Kong government is doing is implementing the policies of the WTO," Ballabares said.

She said that this was part of a twofold struggle, since most migrant workers come to the SAR to escape the same policy in their home countries...The actions, which are part of a global campaign to "defeat the agenda of neo-liberal globalizations that destroy [migrants'] lives," begin with an education series on November 6. Migrant worker representatives will conduct open-air teach-ins at the Star Ferry terminals, on the streets of Central and wherever they can gather a large number of migrants. On November 13, migrant workers will sing songs in Central at lunchtime and during evening commutes. Then comes "embassy hopping," when migrants from six Asian countries will protest at their respective embassies.

The highlight, according to organizers, comes on November 27 with the Hong Kong People's Mardi Gras "against globalization and the WTO."

What a month of fun November will be.

Dolores would like to junk the WTO because free trade has allowed hundreds of thousands of her compatriots to escape crushing poverty, chronic corruption and incompetent governance and make a living for themselves while providing the largest source of foreign exchange for the Philippines. If not for the minimum wage even more of Asia's poor could find a chance to do the same, while sending back money to family in their home country. At the same time in those home countries exports have often proven the only viable and growing sector in economies shackled by cronyism, rigged markets and corruption. Free trade has proven to be a boon for economic growth in both developed (ie employer) economies and developing (ie employee) economies. So Dolores should be encouraging Hong Kong to implement the policies of the WTO, rather than organising a spreading of the ignorance she is so deeply steeped in.

I would like Dolores or any of her co-loonies to provide an example of the agenda of neo-liberal globalizations that destroy [migrants'] lives. All I see is pig-headed populism.

If Dolores could get away from her Mardi Gras plans for a minute, she'd realise there is a court case of massive import for the people she supposedly represents. The Standard reports on a potential High Court review of ban on right of abode for domestic helpers.

The Hong Kong government's immigration policy of excluding all foreign domestic workers from being considered as "ordinarily resident" and, therefore, ineligible for unconditional stay could face scrutiny in the High Court if leave is granted for a judicial review next month....[Justice Hartmann] agreed to adjourn the hearing until December 12, when he will decide on whether to grant leave for a judicial review.

The Immigration Ordinance states that a permanent resident can be "a person not of Chinese nationality who has entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years and has taken Hong Kong as his place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region." However, "a person shall not be treated as ordinarily resident in Hong Kong while employed as a domestic helper who is from outside Hong Kong."

Despite domestic helpers contributing an estimated HK$13 billion a year to the local economy, not to mention saving the Government a bundle in child and elderly care, they are still widely and official considered second class residents.

In short, Dolores is cursing the people she should be thanking and missing the story she should really care about. Does her organisation have elections?

posted by Simon on 11.04.05 at 09:50 AM in the Hong Kong category.WTO category.


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hear, hear.


posted by: d on 11.04.05 at 08:35 PM [permalink]

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