The Consulates General of the Philippines and Indonesia sent a joint demarche (political initiative) to the Office of the Ombudsman of Hong Kong, calling for the improved living conditions of foreign domestic helpers (FDH) staying at boarding facilities there.
In a report dated Feb. 23, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the document was submitted last Feb. 11 and was received by Assistant Ombudsman Sara Tse.
“The joint demarche mainly called for improved living conditions for boarding facilities and sought the Hong Kong government’s assistance in ensuring that appropriate health and safety standards are put in place to ensure the well-being of FDHs among others,” the DFA said.
There was no immediately available statement from the Indonesian Embassy in Manila what the Consulate General of its home office had said in the joint demarche.
Last August 2020, a significant number of coronavirus infections were recorded among domestic helpers who stayed in boarding facilities in Hong Kong.
The COVID-19 infection involving domestic helpers reportedly accounted for around 5 percent of total cases in Hong Kong in January 2021 alone.
The local paper Hong Kong Standard said domestic helpers were allowed to stay in boarding houses for two weeks while looking for jobs.
Some accommodations, however, were allegedly overcrowded and violated building usage, risking transmission among tenants.
In January 2021, the Hong Kong Ombudsman initiated an inquiry to evaluate government regulations on these boarding houses.
The joint demarche was a response to the Ombudsman’s request for recommendations regarding the issue.