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Friday, March 20, 2015, 09:01

Alleged IS recruitment in HK sparks call for anti-terror laws

By Shadow Li in Hong Kong
Alleged IS recruitment in HK sparks call for anti-terror laws

Indonesian muslim maids take part in a march to protest the Hong Kong government proposed 15-30 percent wage cut for foreign domestic helpers 13 January 2002. (AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKS)

Allegations that terrorist group Islamic State (IS) sought Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong for service has galvanized calls for stronger anti-terrorism laws as officials scramble to verify the unconfirmed reports.

Muslim Indonesian maids have been targeted by IS-linked recruiters at popular Sunday gathering spots around the city, according to local media citing an unnamed employment agency and a workers’ rights group.

The possibility of the SAR being used as a recruitment base for terrorists has National Peoples’ Congress Deputy Cheng Yiu-tong concerned that the city has left itself open to the consequences of global terrorism, while it debates and delays in adopting tougher anti-terrorism laws.

"Anti-terrorism efforts require a national level response, at the very least. A city alone cannot shoulder this responsibility,” Cheng said.

He said Hong Kong, as an open port with simple transit regulations, needed to work more closely with the central government or risk serving as an unwitting conduit for terrorists.

The SAR is already party to the United Nations’ Anti-Terrorism Measures Ordinance. This prohibits the recruitment and membership of groups on the international body’s list of terrorist organizations.

Cheng believes the treaty is insufficient, noting that the US response to terrorism was coordinated at the highest levels.

"The terrorism landscape has continued to evolve since the Sept 11, 2001 attacks and national level resources are needed to protect a city as critical to the nation as Hong Kong,” Cheng said.

Hong Kong police already liaise regularly with their mainland and overseas counterparts.

Reda Mantovani, attorney-general of the Indonesian consulate in Hong Kong, said the consulate was liaising with recruitment agencies. He said the consulate would discuss the matter further.

Mantovani noted that while the possibility that terrorist groups were recruiting Indonesians in Hong Kong was alarming, most maids were in Hong Kong looking to make money rather than engage in terrorism.

"Employment agencies vet their maids to match prospective employers in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong employers typically look for helpers who are not too religious,” Mantovani said. He added that those with military backgrounds or fundamentalist beliefs were barred from entering Hong Kong.
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