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Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 10:02

Regina Ip is another victim of silly political correctness

By Lau Nai-keung

Political correctness can be suffocating and counter-productive — as we are now seeing in Hong Kong.

Executive Councilor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has published a post on Facebook and her blog criticizing the international media for only focusing on wage arrears and physical abuses when reporting on domestic workers in Hong Kong. She pointed out the need to examine the issue of “Filipino maids being turned into sexual resources for male foreigners”.

Regina Ip is another victim of silly political correctness Somehow, her piece is interpreted as accusing Filipino maids of seducing their male employers. The South China Morning Post covered the story as “Regina Ip accused of racism over tales of Filipino maids bedding expat bosses”. All foreign media running the story used similar headlines because they were using the Post as their main source. This is because most of them cannot read Chinese, and did not understand Ip’s original Facebook post.

According to the Post, Ip “chastised the international media for only focusing on the misbehavior of employers of domestic helpers”. The phrase implied that Ip wanted the international media to discuss problems involving maids. But this does not make sense. This is because the second part of the sentence immediately acknowledges that Ip also said the international media should not ignore “the issue of a large number of Filipino maids being turned into sexual resources for male foreigners.” Note that the passive voice is used!

Someone who genuinely cares about social justice will ask whether expat employers are turning Filipino maids, or for that matter maids from any country, into sexual resources. And if this is true, what society should do to prevent it happening.

Politically correct bigots, on the other hand, immediately scream racism. This why we saw Emman Villanueva, spokesman of an Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body, telling the media that Ip’s statement was racist “as it is directed at a particular nationality”.

So it appears that if Ip had written “domestic workers” instead of “Filipino maids” then everything would have been fine. It no longer matters whether a statement is true or not, the most important thing is that it should sound good and not appear unpleasant. “Representatives” of Filipino maids are not outraged that their fellow people are being sexually exploited. All they care about is why Ip didn’t also mention Indonesians or Bangladeshis.

Soon, the expat community will also cry foul, “Hey, we are not the only people sexually exploiting the maids. Local Hong Kong Chinese are also involved. This is so racist.”

As always, this is how our “progressives” distract us from the real issues.

Of course, there is nothing new about affluent men and poor women developing complicated relationships that involve both intimacy and material considerations at the same time. Frequently relationships are more materialistic than romantic.

The saddest thing about all this is that no one is actually denying the phenomenon Ip was trying to expose. Somehow, people don’t see it as a problem. A John Carpenter from Discovery Bay wrote in an online community forum that some people “want government intervention for a very personal relationship which any consenting two adults can get into.” Consent — what a big word for “liberals”. I am sure mail-order brides also consent to being listed in a catalog.

We live in an unequal world, and our society is racist and sexist. An accurate account of our racist and sexist society, therefore, cannot rely sole on the language promoted by politically correct people. How can we begin to help the oppressed when they refuse to be labeled as such?

Regina Ip’s attempt to address the problem of sexual exploitation in domestic labor arrangements is laudable. Anyone who calls her a racist is actually doing more harm than good.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

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