Domestic worker groups marched from Central to the headquarters of the New People’s Party in Wanchai on Sunday calling for lawmaker Eunice Yung to apologise over remarks they deemed offensive.

Yung said last week at a Legislative Council meeting that domestic workers “sit, eat and sleep on the ground, thus affecting the daily lives of the public, the operation of shops and the environmental hygiene in public places.”

domestic worker march
Photo: Eman Villanueva (AMCB).

The domestic worker community called Yung’s remarks “offensive” and “insensitive.” The Asian Migrants Coordinating Body and International Migrants Alliance organised a rally on Sunday, demanding an apology from Yung.

“[O]ur group demands that you make amends by making an unconditional and public apology to all the migrant domestic workers who felt offended by your statement,” the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body said in a letter addressed to Yung.

The group said that domestic workers “provide immeasurable convenience, care, and peace of mind to more than 260,000 Hong Kong households while at the same time contribut[ing] more than a billion dollars’ worth of purchased goods and services to the Hong Kong economy.”

They also free local parents from household duties so they can join the work force, the group said.

“It is in this context that we were offended, maligned and discriminated by your insinuation that our presence in public areas such as public parks and pedestrianised roads poses hygiene problems and is negatively affecting the lives of the local people and is a ‘worsening’ problem’,” they continued.

domestic worker march
Photo: Eman Villanueva (AMCB).

“I think the issue is also beyond Ms Yung. The issue I think is that… Ms Yung’s statements only expose the very bad conditions that we are in now,” Asian Migrants Coordinating Body’s Eman Villanueva told reporters on Sunday.

“It is true that we are all staying in public parks. But there is a reason behind… we do not have our own homes. We do not have our own rooms. Where will we go during our rest days?”

eunice yung
Eunice Yung receiving the petition letter. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

The groups handed the petition letter to Yung on Sunday. Organisers of the march said Yung told them she was sorry if they felt offended by her comments.

“We hope [the government] will provide more suitable spaces for domestic workers to stay and gather and to rest,” Yung said. “I hope this question of mine can make the government more aware of and address the issue, and give us new insights.”

However, when asked by a reporter whether she would apologise, Yung did not respond and left. The activists said they hoped that Yung and her party would issue a statement to publicly apologise.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.