Hong Kong’s crusade against the PhilippinesBy Asia Sentinel Oct 11, 2013 1:59PM UTC
Three years on, racism is at work in attempts to get Aquino to apologize for bus murders, writes Asia Sentinel’s Philip Bowring
Three and half years ago, eight Hong Kong tourists in Manila were killed when a gunman hijacked their bus and eventually opened fire before himself being killed. The Manila police had attempted a rescue operation but badly bungled it.
Since then there has been a constant drum roll of demands in Hong Kong for President Benigno S. Aquino III to apologize personally for this tragic incident and for the Philippines to pay compensation to the victims’ families as though the president and whole nation were somehow liable for the actions of one gunman.
The drumroll hit a crescendo this week when appointed chief executive C.Y. Leung attempted to use the APEC summit in Bali to further such demands in a meeting with Aquino. That itself was a display of arrogance. Hong Kong is only a member of APEC because of its independent economic status. On all other matters, Leung has all the standing of a major city mayor, with no right to make demands on the elected president of an independent nation of 90 million.
But with the Philippines best known in Hong Kong as the supplier of domestic helpers, Leung followed the local habit of treating all Filipinos – and other non-Chinese Asians deemed suitable only for domestic service – as serfs. In an attempt to court popularity in Hong Kong, Beijing added fuel to the issue by backing Leung’s demands. Aquino could have legitimately refused to discuss the issue, but did agree to some ministerial level talks.
(READ MORE: APEC evicts HK journalists who heckled Aquino)
To make matters worse, some local politicians chimed in with demands that Hong Kong stop the entry of helpers from the Philippines until Aquino had apologized and paid compensation. Chief among these advocates were legislators representing People Power, a party which purports to be liberal and democratic but is prone to thuggish behavior. Democratic Party legislator James To, usually known for demanding that Beijing keep its nose out of Hong Kong affairs, demanded firm action by Beijing to bring the Philippines to heel.
Only slightly better were editorials in supposedly responsible media. The South China Morning Post, for example, wrote: “There can be no forgetting [the tragedy] until demands have been met.”
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