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Chinese official seeks Hong Kong cooperation over Shanghai FTZ
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Jan 13, 2014

Indonesian maid hospitalised after Hong Kong torture: report
Hong Kong (AFP) Jan 13, 2014 - An Indonesian maid has been hospitalised in her home country after allegedly being tortured by her Hong Kong employer, a report said late Monday.

The city's police confirmed that a case of alleged torture of a foreign domestic helper was received on January 12 and was made by the helper's employment agency.

"On the afternoon of January 12, the police received notice from an domestic helper recruitment firm, that a foreign domestic helper was suspected of having been tortured by her employer," a police statement sent to AFP late Monday said.

Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said the helper went back to her native Indonesia on January 10, where she has been in "critical condition" at a hospital.

The paper quoted local migrant groups saying she could have been abused for up to eight months after arriving in Hong Kong in May of last year.

The helper, identified as Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, needed the help of a friend to walk her through the city's airport due cuts and burns on her body, legs and feet, according to the SCMP.

The paper further reported that the 23-year-old had only been given HK$100 ($12.90) and a t-shirt by her employer and was requested not to speak to other Indonesians before boarding the plane.

Hong Kong is home to nearly 300,000 maids from mainly Southeast Asian countries -- predominantly Indonesia and the Philippines -- with growing criticism from concern groups over their treatment.

Amnesty International in November condemned the "slavery-like" conditions faced by thousands of Indonesian women who work in the Asian financial hub as domestic staff and accused authorities of "inexcusable" inaction.

It found that Indonesians were exploited by recruitment and placement agencies who seize their documents and charge them excessive fees, with false promises of high salaries and good working conditions.

A Hong Kong couple were jailed in September for attacks on their Indonesian domestic helper, which included burning her with an iron and with a bike chain.

The couple was branded as "cruel" and "inhumane" by the trial judge.

Shanghai's vice mayor on Monday urged cooperation from Hong Kong over China's ambitious new free-trade zone, saying its potential to boost growth will offset any competitive threat to the former British colony.

The FTZ in Shanghai, launched in September, will allow unfettered exchange of China's yuan currency as part of a bold push to reform the world's second largest economy.

But the zone has been seen as a threat to Hong Kong's free economy and its status as a finance hub, with fears that capital might flow out to the FTZ. Observers have said that it could be a warning by Beijing to dampen political protests in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region of China.

But Tu Guangshao, executive vice mayor of Shanghai, brushed aside those concerns, saying the FTZ could serve as an engine for collective growth.

"We should make proactive efforts to seize the opportunity. It should provide room for (both) Shanghai and Hong Kong (to grow)," Tu said at the Asian Financial Forum conference in Hong Kong.

"I heard people saying that resources may flow from Hong Kong to Shanghai. There is such possibility. But we should rather see... there will be a greater market need."

China formally set up the FTZ in Shanghai on September 29, with the government promoting free conversion of the yuan currency, greater cross-border use of the yuan and interest rate liberalisation.

Hong Kong has fallen to number three in the International Institute for Management Development 2013 World Competitiveness Yearbook, compared to its top spot in 2012.

Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing warned in September that the new FTZ will have a "big impact" on Hong Kong's economy, urging the city to up its game to avoid losing out.

But Tu, citing potential areas for mutual cooperation, said Hong Kong and Shanghai could develop new financial products, adding that both cities will be "motivated" to work together under the new mechanisms to be implemented in the FTZ.

"Hong Kong and Shanghai can together fuel growth in Asia and globally," Tu said.


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