News Release
Blas F. Ople Policy Center
March 29, 2009

Ople Center denounces HK journalist for using Filipino maid as “pawn” in Spratly controversy

Former labor undersecretary Susan Ople called on the Philippine Consulate particularly its Office of the Labor Attache to look into the work conditions of “Luisa”, a household worker employed by Hong Kong journalist Chip Tsao after the latter mocked the Philippines as a “nation of servants” in his column written for HK Magazine.

“His very announcement that he gave her Filipino maid a harsh lecture and warned her to tell every one of her compatriots that Spartly Islands belong to China or she’d lose her wages, is already a sign of an unstable, irresponsible and racist employer who resorts to verbal abuse even for perceived bilateral and historic infractions. Luisa deserves a sane and more humane employer while he deserves to clean up his own filth,” Ople said.

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center said the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong should immediately call the attention of the Hong Kong magazine’s publisher and editorial board for Tsao’s provocative and bigoted write-up. “The household is not the place to resolve multiple claims to the Spratly Islands, and Filipino domestic workers should not suffer because of it,” the Center stressed.

It also called on the labor attaché to check on Luisa and on other Filipino maids who may be facing harassments from like-minded employers. “I am sure that Tsao is quite unique in his small-mindedness but the fact that the article was even published calls for vigilance, if not outrage, on the part of our consulate and the Department of Foreign Affairs,” the Center said.

In a column that went online on March 27, Tsao wrote:

“Manila has just claimed sovereignty over the scattered rocks in the South China Sea called the Spratly Islands, complete with a blatant threat from its congress to send gunboats to the South China Sea to defend the islands from China if necessary. This is beyond reproach. The reason: there are more than 130,000 Filipina maids working as $3,580-a-month cheap labor in Hong Kong. As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.”

“As a patriotic Chinese man, the news has made my blood boil. I summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture. I sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell every one of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.”

“Grimly, I told her that if war breaks out between the Philippines and China, I would have to end her employment and send her straight home, because I would not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state by paying her to wash my toilet and clean my windows 16 hours a day. With that money, she would pay taxes to her government, and they would fund a navy to invade our motherland and deeply hurt my feelings.” (Source: http://hk-magazine.com/feature/war-home#comment-2773)

Ople also called the attention of the national government to the last paragraph of Tsao’s column:

“They may have Barack Obama and the hawkish American military behind them, but we have a hostage in each of our homes in the Mid-Levels or higher. Some of my friends told me they have already declared a state of emergency at home. Their maids have been made to shout “China, Madam/Sir” loudly whenever they hear the word “Spratly.” They say the indoctrination is working as wonderfully as when we used to shout, “Long live Chairman Mao!” at the sight of a portrait of our Great Leader during the Cultural Revolution. I’m not sure if that’s going a bit too far, at least for the time being.” (Source: http://hk-magazine.com/feature/war-home#comment-2773)

The Center denounced such actions of Tsao’s friends as a concrete example of racial and political intolerance. “Apparently, Mr. Tsao and his friends think they are the more supreme race, and are now using what should be strictly an employer-employee relationship to drive home this point. We must not allow them to use our workers as pawns and hostages as a consequence of our just and historical claim.”