Now the article has been taken down in the website but the Senate Resolution also asked the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to look into the working condition of the overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong. As the Hong Kong government decided to exclude foreign domestic worker from minimum wage legislation, the article will certainly add oil to the flame.
Who is Chip Tsao?
So who is Chip Tsao and what exactly did he write? For local Hong Kong people, we know him as To Kit （陶傑）, he is one of the most famous columnist and broadcaster in Hong Kong and he “earns” his reputation with his vulgar sarcasm, metaphor and Cantonese F words. Wikipedia has more of his background.
The article “The War at Home”, reading from the surface, is a commentary on international relation, in particular over the Spratly Islands, however, the embedded text is a criticism of Hong Kong Chinese's nationalism which is directed towards weaker country, rather than strong states, such as Russia and Japan. It is under such context that he wrote:
As a nation of servants, you don't flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.
Of course, such metaphor is very offensive to local domestic workers, especially the imagined conversation between him and “Louisa” (his domestic worker). However, if you have read how he criticized the Chinese government with his comment on June 4, you would be surprised (Apple Daily 205-05-07 via inmediahk.net):
Mockery of Chinese or domestic workers?
Regarding this article, netizens from hkgolden forum pointed out that the article is in fact a mockery of Chinese government (the charge of treason) by quoting this part of the text:
I told her that if war breaks out between the Philippines and China, I would have to end her employment and send her straight home, because I would not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state by paying her to wash my toilet and clean my windows 16 hours a day. With that money, she would pay taxes to her government, and they would fund a navy to invade our motherland and deeply hurt my feelings.
Most of them agreed that Chip Tsao's mean and politically incorrect style would eventually result in big scandal, and the time has come. They re-pasted the apple daily news comic to spoof at Tsao:
Satire or Racism?
Meanwhile, the Asia City Publishing House (publisher of HK Magazine) has issued an apology to the Philippine Consulate General and took down the article in the HK Magazine website, but local filipino group demanded a more sincere public apology from Chip Tsao. In this afternoon press release (via e-mail), United Filipinos in Hong Kong stated:
We are all united in our position that the article was racist, discriminatory and demeaning to Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong. It was insulting to us as Filipinos and as domestic workers who are already confronting serious discriminatory and anti-migrant policies and practices in Hong Kong;
It was not a satire nor did we simply misunderstood the intent of the article. For if it was a satire, it should have been directed to the Philippine government who is also our exploiter and not to the Filipino domestic workers who have no hand on the position of the Philippine government on the Spratly Islands issue.
The NGO also calls for a protest rally April 5 against racial and class discrimination in Hong Kong.
Policy towards foreign domestic workers
The real issue at stake is probably not Chip Tsao's article, but local policy towards domestic workers. Apart from the exploitation employees’ retraining Levy, a more recent controversy is concerning the “exclusion to wage legislation and long working hours”.
Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body, an NGO, has issued a statement this afternoon saying that the HK government's decision to exclude foreign domestic workers from legal protection is a “double violation of rights of foreign domestic workers”.
When the Labour Advisory Board excluded FDWs in the statutory minimum wage because we are working 16 hours a day, what they are really saying is that it is acceptable to pay a measly amount to workers labouring under long working hours. They are saying that this type of modern-day slavery is right.
What is wrong with receiving such an amount if you labor for 16 hours in a day? If a worker works overtime – as what is obviously the practice with domestic workers – she has the right to be compensated accordingly. Don’t we deserve to get paid HK$30 per hour because we are foreign workers?