Fri, Apr 03, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Columnist says sorry if Philippines article offended

POISONED PEN: Manila has barred Hong Kong journalist Chip Tsao from entering the Philippines after he said the country was a ‘nation of servants’

AFP , HONG KONG

A Hong Kong columnist who has been the target of Filipino fury since describing the country as a “nation of servants” said on Wednesday he was sorry if his satirical article caused offense.

Chip Tsao (曹捷)’s apology comes after Hong Kong’s Filipino community said it planned to hold a rally to protest his column, which appeared in a local magazine last week.

“The article was never intended to be insulting to the Filipino domestic workers,” he said.

“English, being a global language, is open to different interpretations by those who come from various cultural backgrounds,” Tsao said. “Has anyone been deeply upset, it was never my intention and I feel sorry.”

Tsao raised hackles by writing in HK Magazine that Manila’s claims to the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea were ridiculous in the face of Beijing’s rival territorial claims.

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

More than 100,000 Filipinos work in Hong Kong.

Tsao wrote in his column that he had warned his own maid that if she wanted a pay rise next year she should tell her compatriots the Spratlys belong to China.

Manila has since barred Tsao from entering the Philippines, despite the magazine issuing an apology, and local Filipinos have said they will hold a rally on Sunday.

“We are very, very angry at this article,” Dolores Balladares, chairwoman of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, said before Tsao’s apology.

She said she expected thousands of marchers to turn out.

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