Regina Ip apologizes for remarks vs Filipino maids in Hong Kong

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, chair of the New People's Party, has apologized for her "racist" or "sexist" remarks against Filipino maids in Hong Kong.

On Friday, April 24, the executive councilor posted a declaration in her Facebook account:


It is a great pity that I was unable to meet with the groups representing the Filipino community which visited my office in Wan Chai yesterday because I was engaged in the Legislative Council. I really wanted to make use of a face-to-face meeting to explain to them in person that I did not make the sexist or racist accusations reported in many media reports on my article.

The sole purpose of my Ming Pao article published on 17 April was to raise a question as to whether there is widespread exploitation of Filipino maids in Hong Kong and to express my concern.

Unfortunately, the way my article was misinterpreted in some quarters has led many to believe that I was sexist or racist and was pointing a finger at the Filipino maids. I strenuously deny such allegations. I have always been friendly to the Filipinos working in Hong Kong in diverse areas. I respect their hard work and their contributions to the Hong Kong community. I have treated my own domestic helper like family. The misunderstanding caused is deeply regretted.

I wish to tender my sincere apologies to all those who have felt offended by my article. I treasure my friendship with the Filipino community. I look forward to an opportunity to explain to the groups which called on my office in person to tender my apologies so that any misunderstanding could be removed."

She earned the ire of Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong after writing offensive comments against Pinay domestic helpers.

In an article in the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao that was republished on her blog and Facebook page last week, Ip wrote that when she was still Secretary for Security, she had received complaints from "foreign women" in Discovery Bay that the government was "allowing Filipino domestic helpers to seduce their husbands," South China Morning Post reported.

Last Thursday, April 24, more or less 40 people gathered in front of the New People’s Party’s office in Wan Chai to attend the protest organized by the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body. During the rally, protesters held posters depicting Regina Ip as Adolf Hitler and banners demanding an apology from her.

Reacting to her statement, which was interpreted by many as "Pinay maids in Hong Kong are homewreckers," labor and employment secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz issued the following statement:

“I am seriously concerned over the reported commentary of Hong Kong lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee against Filipino household service workers (HSWs) in Hong Kong which has stirred international controversy and aroused national indignation. Her reported negative remarks, I believe, is a personal opinion and do not echo the feelings and perceptions of the general Hong Kong populace, neither of the Hong Kong government of which she is identified as an apologist.

“Filipinos are culturally family-centered. We are known to highly value family ties. This trait has defined Filipinos for generations, wherever they are and whatever circumstances they may be in. Filipino women are homemakers, not home wreckers. They also fiercely defend their honor and dignity, as evidenced by the many cases of HSWs risking their lives by running away from employers and seeking shelter in our Filipino Workers Resource Centers because of the immoral behaviour of their employers.

“I acknowledge that some of our OFWs display unacceptable behavior and commit offenses abroad. We certainly do not tolerate this. As Secretary of Labor and Employment, I often remind every OFW to observe high moral standard in their work and lifestyle. But the mistakes of the few should not be misconstrued as reflective of the character of all OFWs.

“To address the issues raised by Ms. Ip, I wish it known that we continue to implement our strict policy on the ethical and legal deployment of HSWs only to labor laws-compliant employers and placing all erring employers and placement agencies in all countries of OFW destinations under preventive suspension or cancellation of accreditation.

“In Hong Kong, particularly, we continue our “cleansing” the ranks of foreign recruitment agencies (FRAs) by looking at those engaged in the exploitative and abusive practice of excessive collection of fees from OFWs in the guise of service fees from their local counterparts in the Philippines.

“We also continue to implement our return home policy under the National Reintegration Program with a very specific project, “Sa ‘Pinas Ikaw ang Ma’am/Sir” targeted at HSW-teachers who we are encouraging to come home and pursue their teaching careers. In cooperation with the DepEd, we have already placed 10 OFW-teachers in permanent teaching positions this first quarter of 2015, while 45 are expected to teach this coming school year. We still have some 300 teacher-position items allocated by the DepEd to fill-up.

“To ensure that our low- and semi-skilled OFWs are prepared for higher skill-level employment opportunities in the Philippines or abroad, we have brought the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s training, skills assessment, and certification on-site. We have begun this last year in Dubai, and we are preparing to start very soon in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and in other Middle East countries.

“I thank the civil society groups and individuals in Hong Kong and elsewhere who have risen in support and defense of our Filipino HSWs, whose industry and hard work enable the families they serve in Hong Kong to work, comfortable in the thought that their children are left in the better and secure care of Filipino HSWs.

I also wish to convey to our counterpart in the Hong Kong government our interest and readiness to engage them in bilateral talks to discuss the issues and concerns affecting the employment of Filipino HSWs in Hong Kong. Already, the POEA is in the midst of multi-stakeholders consultations on the no-placement fee convention of the ILO for our country’s ratification."

Regina Ip's article containing her remarks against Filipino maids in Hong Kong has been removed from her blog and Facebook page.