A Legislative Council member has caused a storm by suggesting that the government should allocate as many as 10,000 jobs in domestic employment to ethnic minorities, instead of importing workers.
Pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-Yiu floated the proposal at a meeting of the council’s subcommittee on rights of ethnic minorities on Monday, news website thestandnews.com reported. He suggested that 5,000 to 10,000 jobs be set aside for maids.
The ethnic minorities would be paid 110% of the minimum wage of HK$34.50 (US$4.40) an hour and would not need to live with their employer. If they worked 22 days a month, the maids could earn approximately HK$7,000 (US$892) a month.
Ho said the city had relied on the recruitment of migrants from the Philippines and Indonesia because there had been no other group available in the past to fill domestic positions. However, there were now ethnic minorities looking for work, who should get priority.
Leaders of minority communities who attended the meeting were not impressed with Ho’s comments. Businessman Abdull Ghafar Khan said he was very angry at the suggestion, which he believed was humiliating to the city’s non-Chinese residents.
Khan accused Ho of trying to separate Hong Kong people into two groups – Chinese and other residents – and felt there was no need for jobs to be reserved for non-Chinese. He noted that it was already possible for any Hong Kong resident to become a domestic worker.
Ho apologised and said his proposal was a short-term measure to tackle employment difficulties faced by some ethnic minorities.
The city government has allocated a HK$500 million (US$63.7 million) fund to strengthen support for ethnic minorities.