Residency for Domestic Helpers is good news for Hong Kong restaurants.
I grabbed my Sunday morning paper at the 7-11 near the Park Island ferry pier just before heading off to church. The 22 minute ride downtown offers me just enough time to scan the headlines as I balance my coffee and see what trouble people are getting up to in the world. In the op-ed section of the South China Morning Post there are the “Quotes of the Week” and one quote struck me.
If you read my recent post or live in Hong Kong you know that the granting of permanent residence to the Filipino and Indonesian domestic helpers has been very controversial. Essentially anyone who lives in Hong Kong for 7 years legally can apply for Permanent Residence except domestic helpers. The Courts have ruled it discriminatory while the government plans to file an appeal. Meanwhile long term domestic helpers have been applying for residency despite the fact that it all could get held up in political bickering.
So, back to the quote of the week! Little Soriano Pacita, a domestic helper in Hong Kong for 14 years filed for her residency and is quoted saying, “If I were granted Right of Abode, I could work as a waitress in restaurants instead of as a domestic helper. I want to spend more time to socialize with more people and date a guy.”
I smiled and thought, “Good for Soriano Pacita and doubly good for the restaurants in Hong Kong.” An increase in Filipinos entering the hospitality industry would be great for the territory.
Why you ask?
Well for starters, the Filipinos English levels tend to be much higher so when you ask for salt from them while dining, they don’t return to your table proudly bearing a ketchup bottle. Second, the Filipinos excel at hospitality and are quite gregarious making chatting with them while out dining a pleasurable experience.
For example, on the same day that I read the quote in the paper, Tammy and I had lunch at Taco Loco; a Mexican restaurant in SoHo just off the mid-levels escalator. Our server was a Filipino and she was the perfect hostess and waitress. She chatted with us, helped get food that Ethan George could eat, and made some accommodations that we wouldn’t have bothered to ask for if she hadn’t been so hospitable.
Back when Hong Kong was a British territory, British nationals could come to Hong Kong and work visa free. Then the predominately English speaking areas like Lan Kwai Fong’s many nightclubs and restaurants were populated by young Brits back packing across the world who took advantage of the territory’s colonial status to stop and make a few bucks before heading out again. After 1997 that loophole was closed and the hospitality staff in those areas abruptly changed.
Gone was “Ian” the Scottish bartender at the Fringe Club who used to give the free drink on occasion. Granted I couldn’t understand his English much either through his thick Scot accent…but did I mention the free drinks? Have you been to the Fringe Club lately? There are no more Scotsmen behind the bar…
So, my opinion on this subject is confirmed. If giving residency to domestic helpers helps our struggling hospitality industry I say lets give it to them.
Oh, and its also the right thing to do…if that helps.
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