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Phl, Indo urge HK to let helpers waiting for visa join new employers

11 February 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

CGs Tejada (left) and Suhendar were received by Asst Ombudsman Tse

The Philippines and Indonesia have jointly urged the Hong Kong government to allow foreign domestic helpers to stay with their new employers while waiting for the approval of their working visa to decongest boarding houses.

Alternatively, Immigration and other relevant departments should speed up the visa approval process and resolution of labor and other cases involving the workers, the two largest FDH-sending countries to Hong Kong proposed.

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These were just two of the eight proposals in a joint demarche (petition) submitted by the Philippine and Indonesian Consulates General to the Office of the Ombudsman this morning, Feb 11, in response to its call for submissions on  how boarding houses should be regulated.

Consul General Raly Tejada and his Indonesian counterpart, Ricky Suhendar, also called for “periodic and regular inspection” of boarding houses for FDHs here, saying these facilities are “substandard” and pose health and safety hazards.

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Their other proposals include:

Tejada handing over the joint demarche to Tse

·       Subsidizing employment agencies to improve their boarding facilities for FDHs or directly subsidize FDHs to rent other facilities;

·       Appealing to employers to rotate the rest days of FDHs, with employment agencies providing a “substitute worker” when the FDH takes her day off.


·       Opening designated leisure and sport facilities to FDHs

·       Calling on HK government to sponsor training programs for FDHs.

·       Strict enforcement of laws and regulations benefiting FDHs.


The opening statement in the demarche read: “We, the Consulates General of the Republic of the Philippines and Republic of Indonesia, wish to bring to the attention of the Office of the Ombudsman of Hong Kong the substandard condition of boarding facilities for foreign domestic helpers …some of which are overcrowded, unsanitary and thus posing a hazard to their health and safety.”

“We are deeply concerned that a vulnerable community, such as the FDHs, has to live under these difficult circumstances, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Assistant Ombudsman Sara Tse received the joint petition from the two consuls general on behalf of Ombudsman Winnie Chiu at around 11:15 this morning, said Consul Paulo Saret, who was also present during the call.

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The submission was made today to beat the Feb 14 deadline set by the Ombudsman, which happens to fall during the Lunar New Year.

11 FDHs who stayed in a boarding house in this Tai Po building tested positive for Covid-19

Ombudsman Chiu announced the inquiry on Jan. 14, citing media reports earlier on FDHs being infected with Covid-19 as they were forced to stay in cramped boarding facilities while waiting for their new employment visas.

In the latest outbreak in a boarding house in Taipo, at least 11 FDHs were infected, along with four members of an employer’s family.

In a statement, Chiu said overcrowding, poor hygiene and suspected violations of building usage have been uncovered in some of the temporary lodging facilities.

Chiu invited the public, FDHs, concern groups and organizations to submit their views on the matter within a month, as she conducts a probe on what relevant government agencies have done to improve the state of boarding houses here in the absence of industry regulation.






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