Get ready to welcome Cambodian maids

Top News | Riley Chan and Sum Lok-kei 14 Aug 2017

Hongkongers were told yesterday to prepare for the arrival next month of Cambodians to work as domestic helpers.

But Secretary for Labour and Manpower Law Chi-kwong did not say how many Cambodians will be in the first batch of arrivals out of the 1,000 heading this way.

Having returned from a visit to Cambodia on Friday, Law said yesterday that while there he met with representatives of government departments, employment agencies, non-governmental organizations, associations and trade unions to discuss the employment of Cambodians in Hong Kong as domestic helpers.

And seeking to reassure people about the language abilities of this new stream in the work force, Law said in his blog that during his three-day visit he saw many buildings and road signs in Chinese and English in addition to Khmer.

So with a "very high" linguistic ability and as many Chinese live in Cambodia, Law added, it should not be a big problem for the new arrivals to settle into the Hong Kong lifestyle.

He remarked too that Cambodian cuisine is delicious and should be appreciated by Hongkongers, who are already familiar with Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

The Cambodian hiring scheme was revealed in April with the SAR relaxing visa requirements for nationals of Belt and Road countries. The plan has been welcomed by Hong Kong employment agencies.

The helpers arriving here will have been through a three-month training course in Cambodia covering spoken Cantonese, cooking and nursing. Additionally, the Labor Department has included the Khmer language on the Foreign Domestic Helper Corner on its website to help launch the scheme.

Law's undersecretary, Caspar Tsui Ying-wai, said yesterday the inflow of new blood in the workforce is a "good thing" as demand for foreign domestic workers in the SAR is high.

Efforts to expand the number of countries who can provide domestic helpers will continue, he added, and officials will pay careful attention to the demand for foreign helpers.

Tsui also said his department has yet to receive word that five cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai, will hire Filipino domestic workers on high rates of pay.

Dominador Say, the Philippine undersecretary of labor and employment, was last month quoted as saying mainland employers in the five cities could pay domestic helpers from the Philippines the equivalent of HK$15,000 a month, or more than three times the minimum wage for foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

But Say later backtracked on his words and said the pay level quoted was incorrect.

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