8 AUG 2011

Category One Country Two Systems Principle
Issue Court battle over foreign domestic helpers’ rights to permanent residency
News Content Executive Council held a three-hour special meeting last week to discuss government’s position on the case. No public announcement was made after the meeting. But it was reported that the administration would await the outcome of the case before considering seeking Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law on the rights of abode of foreign domestic helpers. SCMP, quoting an unidentified source, reported that the government would definitely appeal if it lost the case and request for suspension of enforcement of the ruling while the appeal was heard. The exco also discussed what administrative measures could be taken to minimize the impact on society should the foreign domestic workers won the case. One measure might be to restrict the length of stay of foreign domestic helpers to less than seven years.
Questions Seeking Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law is never an option as it would definitely damage Hong Kong’ rule of law and the city’s autonomy by violating the principle of one country two systems principle. It was reported the government also consider restricting the length of stay of foreign domestic helpers to less than seven years. It is also not an option as it might further discriminate the foreign domestic workers, differentiating from other foreign workers, limiting their rights at work.