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ARE WE A NATION OF SERVANTS?

Chip Tsao, is a Hong Kong Based columnist, broadcaster and published books author. He is also an ultra Conservative political commentator who is a fervent Chinese Patriot, a fan of Ronald Reagan who looks fondly back at the British Governance of Kong Kong, all despite coming from a strong leftist family.

He is also a racist and banned from entering the Philippines.

This status has come very swiftly after his comments in an article published on the HK Magazine website on 27th March. It was refreshing to actually see the Philippine Government move so fast!

In his article Mr Tsao discussed the current dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, a subject of contention for China, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Vietnam. All of whom claim an element of sovereignty over the scattered rocks with vast mineral and oil deposits below them. Similar to the disputes occurring between Canada and Russia. Philippines had even gone as far as threatening to send gunboats to patrol the Islands. However, instead of intelligent debate or insight Mr Tsao proceeded to insult the Philippines. Below are some actual quotes:

“As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.”

Regarding his Filipina maid he “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.”

He further stated “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,”

“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,”

In reference to his ‘satirical sense of humor’ he also wrote: “The Philippines may have a 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 portrait (sic) of our Great leader during the Cultural Revolution,”

Needless to say, his article was in completely bad taste and garnered some very strong words from Migrante (an alliance of Filipino Migrant Organisations), the Philippine Consulate, local legislators (Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Senator Pia Cayetano, Reps. Antonio Cuenco and Ruffy Biazon), and a large number of the 130,000 overseas Filipinos in HK, most notably this statement in full from the Philippine Deputy Consul General Kira Danganan in Hong Kong:

“Mr. Tsao’s commentaries have outraged Filipinos in Hong Kong and all over the world.

It is unfortunate that such an article could be published in a city that prides itself as a progressive society, that has achieved milestones in multicultural harmony, and whose very character is defined by the presence of people from all corners of the globe.

The image of racism that Mr. Tsao portrayed in his column has demeaned the members of his own household and the more than 127,000 Filipinos working in Hong Kong as household service workers. Their contributions to Hong Kong’s achievements are undeniable. Their work is a noble and dignified one.

While Mr. Tsao may have intended his column to be a piece of satire, he has miserably miscalculated in this endeavour. Mr. Tsao and Asia City Publishing owe the Filipino community in Hong Kong a formal apology for the grave disrespect they have shown.

Fortunately, their views are not shared by the larger society in Hong Kong. Despite this unfortunate incident, the long-standing friendship and mutual respect being enjoyed by the Filipino community and the Hong Kong society will remain.”

This has forced an immediate response from Asia City Publishing:

“The publisher and editors of HK Magazine wish to apologize unreservedly for any offence that may have been caused by Chip Tsao’s column dated March 27.

HK Magazine has long championed the rights of Filipinos working in Hong Kong. We note that Filipinos have often been unfairly treated in Hong Kong, and that they make an important contribution to this community.

As a magazine, we would never want to say anything that would negate that belief.

The column in question was satirical. One aspect of satire is that it can at times be read in different ways. In this particular case, many people have read meanings into this column that were never actually intended.

We wish to assure our readers that we have nothing but respect for Filipinos, both living in Hong Kong and abroad.”

So does this mean the whole episode is over? Probably not…

…Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri has filed a resolution, ‘Senate Resolution 955’, asking the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to look into the working condition of the overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong…

…Mr Tsao is also yet to apologise…

…and the Spratly Islands could well be an important factor in China’s growth, their lack of natural resources and overwhelming rate of growth would be greatly helped by the oil under the Islands. So too would the other countries, including the Philippines.

Either way, the constant derision of the migrant Filipino, for the majority of us, our parents, is worrying. We might be able to laugh it off but when a person talks about their Filipina maid and how they treat them, it becomes something totally different. Many of us know how badly a lot of domestic staff are treated globally, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, where Filipinos are thought of mainly as a servant class.

This is something our generation must change. Remember, if the most powerful person in the world can come through one generation from a nation most noted for their coffee beans, safari and long distance runners, what can we do?

By Adrian Williams.

philgen

One Comment

  1. I think we need to look at the whole article to be able to judge it. If it is satire, we can’t accept the comments at face value.
    I like being called a “nation of servants” in some sense. It is a good Christian image of humility and love.

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