By Beh Lih Yi | AFP News â€“ 12 hours ago
Hong Kong's court of appeal on Wednesday overturned a landmark ruling that opened the door for thousands of foreign maids to claim residency in the southern Chinese city.
"It must be up to the sovereign authority to decide the extent to which the status of permanent resident should be conceded to foreign nationals," Judge Andrew Cheung wrote in a 66-page judgement accepting the government's appeal.
The High Court ruled on September 30 last year that Philippine domestic worker Evangeline Banao Vallejos had the right to request permanent residency status, something that had been denied to foreign maids until then.
But the government argued that the authorities had discretionary power to decide who was eligible for residency, rejecting arguments that restrictions on maids were unconstitutional and discriminatory.
The three-judge panel on the court of appeal unanimously accepted that argument, saying the High Court could not override the government's authority to decide who can live in the city and who cannot.
The decision will come as a major blow to tens of thousands of maids who could have been eligible for residency status if the Vallejos case had been established in law.
"It is a fundamental principle in international law that a sovereign state has the power to admit, exclude and expel aliens," Cheung wrote.
Vallejos's lawyers said they would take the case -- the first of its kind in Asia -- all the way to the Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong's highest court.
"The interpretation of the law creates a second-class citizen," counsel Mark Daly told AFP.
"We will continue on to the Court of Final Appeal until we get justice."
The government welcomed the ruling and said it would not process any residency applications from domestic helpers until the courts delivered a final determination.
"The government anticipates that the present litigation will likely proceed to the Court of Final Appeal," Security Secretary Ambrose Lee told reporters.
Rights advocates said the ruling sent the wrong message to other Asian nations that relied on poorly paid maids from less wealthy countries to toil at jobs locals no longer wanted to do.Linkback: https://tubagbohol.mikeligalig.com/index.php?topic=48825.0