Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 5 News List

HK journalist under fire for slur against Filipinos

DPA , MANILA

A Hong Kong journalist was under fire in the Philippines yesterday for calling the Southeast Asian country a “nation of servants” in a column about disputed areas in the South China Sea.

In his Friday column for HK Magazine titled “The War At Home,” Chip Tsao denounced the Philippines’ claims to the Spratly Islands, which are also claimed in whole or in part by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

“As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from where you earn most of your bread and butter,” he said.

Tsao said he gave his Philippine maid a “harsh lecture” on the issue and “sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell every one of her compatriots … that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.”

The magazine said Tsao is a best-selling author and columnist. He is a former reporter for the BBC.

The Blas F Ople Policy Center, a Manila-based non-governmental organization providing assistance to migrant workers, called on the Philippine labor department to blacklist Tsao as an “undesirable foreign employer.”

Susan Ople, the center’s chairwoman, said Tsao should not use his Philippine maid as a “pawn” in the dispute over the Spratly Islands.

“The household is not the place to resolve multiple claims to the Spratly Islands, and Philippine domestic workers should not suffer because of it,” she said.

Ople added that Tsao’s maid “deserves a sane and more humane employer while he deserves to clean up his own filth.”

Congresswoman Risa Hontiveros Baraquel, a representative of a left-wing party, condemned the column and lamented that Tsao’s “disgusting, derogatory and vile remark can only come from dim-witted and mediocre writing.”

“The article reflects the attitude that promotes intolerance and abuse against Philippine domestic workers,” she said.

On the magazine’s Web site, Tsao has received numerous negative comments.

“There is a point where irony done in very poor taste becomes not humorous, but crass, bigoted and stupid,” one commenter said.

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