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Hong Kong cares

03 May 2019



Just when we thought Hong Kong was heartless and uncaring towards foreign domestic workers we hear news of an effort by local officials to extend free medical care to migrants when they need it most.

This refers to recent moves by legislators led by Fernando Cheung to get the government to extend free public health care to migrant workers, even after their employment contracts have been terminated.

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This, or require employers to purchase medical insurance for their domestic workers for the full two years of their contract.

As chair of the Legislative Council’s manpower panel, Cheung has consistently backed measures that protect lowly workers, including migrant domestic helpers. But what’s surprising in his latest initiative is the overwhelming support he says he’s getting from fellow legislators.

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Cheung says even pro-administration legislators support his move to allow migrant workers to avail of free public health care even after they get the sack.

This was the same message given earlier by his fellow pro-democracy colleague, Kenneth Leung, during a consultation meeting at the Consulate.

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Thus, Cheung says that if our Consulate follows the example of its Indonesian counterpart and require medical insurance each time a Filipino domestic worker is contracted to work in Hong Kong, it will not encounter strong opposition.

He thinks this is the quickest way to provide relief to ailing migrants, as getting the government to make this a requirement would entail the tedious process of revising the standard employment contract for FDWs all over again.


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But alongside this, he promises to keep pursuing the Hong Kong government for an explanation as to why migrant workers, especially the seriously ill, are automatically cut off from free public medical care as soon as they lose their jobs.

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He said this is a heartless policy to begin with, and results in double jeopardy when the migrant worker is kicked out when she falls desperately sick, as in the well-publicized case of Baby Jane Allas who was sacked after being diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer.

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During an initial hearing on the issue, he said the Immigration Department and the Hospital Authority both tried to place the blame at each other’s door, so nothing came out of inquiring whether such a heartless policy does exist in the first place.

He personally thinks the Labor Department is the one that should be correcting this anomaly, and promises to pursue officials there in future.

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But his message is clear: lawmakers are not so blind, or heartless, that they cannot see the immense contribution made by foreign domestic workers not only to the economy, but to the overall well-being of Hong Kong people.

Now, if only our own government would show the same concern for its people, instead of milking them dry each time more money is needed to fuel its grandiose projects…
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