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Re: Recent Judicial Review on the Right of Abode of Foreign Domestic Helpers

08/08/2011

1) In view of repeated allegations reported in the media that Civic Party is involved in the judicial review application concerning the right of abode of foreign domestic helpers, Civic Party reiterates that we have no such involvement. Neither do we have any right to interfere with the work of our members in the course of their professional practice.

2) Numerous legal academics and commentators have already explained that under the current Immigration Ordinance and administrative practice, in order to qualify as Hong Kong Permanent Residents, non-Chinese national applicants are required to meet not only the condition of “having ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years”. They must also meet the condition that at the time of their application they “have taken Hong Kong as their permanent place of residence”. The applicants must satisfy the Immigration Department on a number of factors, including whether they have a habitual place of residence in Hong Kong, whether their families are with them in Hong Kong, whether they have the financial means to meet the living expenses of themselves and their families, whether they pay tax regularly, and so on. An application for their family members to come to live in Hong Kong must be supported by proof of the applicant’s financial ability to pay for their living expenses, to ensure that they will not be a charge on the Hong Kong Community.

3) Civic Party notes that some political parties have published wildly exaggerated and unfounded figures against all common sense, in an attempt of scaremongering. One such claim is: “All foreign domestic helpers who have stayed in Hong Kong over 7 years will rush to the Immigration Department and apply for right of abode, and they are bound to pass all the established tests.” Such claims do not accord with the facts and ignore the established practice of the Government. They play on populist sentiments, divide the community, promote a distorted view of the court case, pressure the courts and undermine the rule of law.

4) In “informal briefings” to the press, the Government suggested that if it loses the case, some hundreds of thousands of foreign domestic helpers and their families will apply for right of abode. No factual details or basis were provided. This is a vivid reminder of what the Government did in 1999, when it told the public that 1.67 million mainland children of Hong Kong parents would flood into Hong Kong. In attempting to get the public to support the Government on false information, the Government ended up losing its credibility. Civic Party urges the Government to avoid falling into the same error, and publish the bases of its projections in detail without delay. We request the Government immediately to explain to the public the established practice of the administration in processing applications from non-Chinese nationals for right of abode under the Immigration Ordinance, and the criteria it applies.

5) The continuation of the smearing campaign against Civic Party, in spite of repeated clarification and explanation, on the internet and in the media and street signboards, leaves Civic Party with no illusion that the deliberate smearing and attack will abate. We call upon the wider public to see these attempts for what they are, condemn these despicable acts and uphold common sense and the core values of Hong Kong.

6) Civic Party respects the rule of law. We believe the Government has the duty and the means properly to handle the question of right of abode of foreign domestic helpers. The Government should not resort to any excuse to invite an Interpretation of the National People’s Congress, and undermine the system of rule of law in Hong Kong. Civic Party believes everyone is entitled to the rights given by the Basic Law. This is the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success and the true way to social harmony.

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