Report: HK singer Jacky Cheung blacklisted for going through 21 Filipino maids
() - September 26, 2007 - 2:30pm

HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung, one of Chinese pop's biggest acts, has been barred by Filipino officials from hiring any more maids from the Philippines after he fired too many them in recent years, a newspaper reported.

A Filipino activist on Wednesday questioned Cheung's employment practices and criticized the Philippine consulate, which must certify all Filipino maid contracts in Hong Kong, for not acting sooner to blacklist the singer.

The Filipino Globe newspaper _ published for Hong Kong's community of Filipino workers _ reported the unusually high maid turnover at Cheung's household in its September edition, citing local consular records.

The report said only a few of the 21 maids Cheung hired over three years completed their two-year contracts.

The newspaper said Cheung's wife, former actress May Lo, met with Consul General Alejandrino Vicente but failed to appeal the blacklisting, which prevents the Cheung household from renewing the contracts of their current four Filipino maids when their contracts expire.

Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper reported Wednesday that Cheung and his wife live with their two daughters in a more than 3,000-square-foot (270-square-meter) apartment.

"We told them we're sorry, but given their record, this is our policy and it's best we keep it that way," the Filipino Globe quoted Vicente as saying.

Vicente also reportedly told Lo that she threatens the livelihoods of her maids by firing them quickly.

"We also explained to her that when you terminate a contract, it's not just the person who suffers. Her family back home also suffers. She may have gone into debt just to raise the money needed to come here and she expects to earn enough money to pay it back," the official reportedly said.

Joel Blas, a duty officer at the Philippine Consulate General, declined comment on the matter and referred questions to the consulate's labor attache, who couldn't be reached immediately.

Calls to Cheung's office went unanswered.

News of Cheung's blacklisting came after one of his former maids, Preslyn-saga Catacutan, was sentenced in December to six months in jail for stealing a letter and three photos from her employer, a sentence maid organizers criticized as harsh at the time. Local media had reported that Cheung testified against the maid in that case.

Eman Villanueva, deputy secretary-general of the Filipino Migrant Workers' Union, said Wednesday Catacutan has since appealed and had her sentence halved.

Consul General Vicente was quoted as saying in the Filipino Globe that Cheung's blacklisting wasn't payback for the Catacutan case.

Villanueva said the consulate general should have acted sooner against Cheung.

"I think it is very obvious that they are not good or ideal employers," he said.

"Why wait for an employer to replace (maids) 21 times? You can easily see the trend. In three years, if you have five, six domestic helpers not even finishing their contracts. Then there's something wrong," Villanueva said.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos work as maids in wealthy Hong Kong. Smaller numbers come from Indonesia, Thailand and Nepal.

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