Saturday 9 December 2017

Elderly need helpers as well as more clinics | SCMP

Letter published last Thursday. Not my usual subject...
The only bit they cut was a comment I'd made at the end refuting the claims of Kammerer and his ilk that domestic helpers in Hong Kong are "slaves", a claim I called hysterical hyperbole. 
Do domestic helpers in Hong Kong wish they were not allowed to work here because some self-righteous prats think they're being exploited? Of course they don't. They want the jobs. And they're free to stay at home, in the Philippines or Indonesia if they wish. 
More: by taking up jobs overseas they reduce the labour pool at home and put pressure on the upward movement of wages there which is, after all, the only way that regional salaries will ever  be equalised, the ultimate aim of the do-gooders. And of mine as well. Let there be greater equality (equity!) regionwise! But it won't happen by restricting working opportunities in high wage Hong Kong. 
Anyway, the letter: 
Elderly need helpers as well as more clinics
Your columnist, Peter Kammerer, says Hong Kong needs more clinics, health and social workers trained in geriatrics to cope with the rise in the city's elderly population ("Trained professionals needed to care for young and old, not more maids", ­December 5).[*]
He is surely correct. But, just as surely, he is incorrect in saying that boosting the number of helpers is "laughable".
The fastest-growing demographic in Hong Kong is the over-80s; I will soon be in that cohort myself.
Some of us may need specialised geriatric care in clinics. But many are mobile and fit for their age, and would welcome a helper-cum-companion, to ­assist with mobility, cooking and other household chores.
My mother is 96 and still healthy and mobile. She lives in Australia and manages on her own, with family help.
She would certainly welcome a helper; but sadly Australia does not allow special domestic helper visas, as Hong Kong does.
As one of the 1.16 million over-65s, please let us keep the mixed system we have in Hong Kong. By all means more clinics and trained social workers. And by all means more helpers.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay