H.K. Police Detain Woman in Domestic Helper Abuse Probe

Hong Kong police detained a woman yesterday in an investigation into the physical abuse of two Indonesian domestic helpers.

Law Wan-tung, 44, was intercepted at the Immigration Department counter as she sought to take a flight to Thailand, said a police spokesman, who asked not to be identified because of the agency’s rules. Law was taken into custody for questioning, he said.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said today the city won’t tolerate the mistreatment of foreign domestic helpers. The former British colony has more than 300,000 foreign maids, with the majority coming from Indonesia and the Philippines.

“Foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong are afforded the full protection of the law,” Leung said today. “We take all reports of foreign domestic helpers being mistreated in Hong Kong very, very seriously.”

A Hong Kong investigation team left for Indonesia with two labor officers and three consulate staff yesterday, the police said. Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, 22, said she was physically abused by her employer Law over eight months and is recovering in a hospital in Java, according to reports by the South China Morning Post. Law was held after another Indonesian maid identified only as Susi, 31, said she was abused between April 2010 and March 2011, the newspaper reported today, citing Senior Inspector Chan Wai-man.

Third Helper

Police yesterday contacted a third foreign domestic helper who said she was attacked by her former employer, according to an e-mailed statement from Hong Kong police today. The case is related to the investigation of Law, a police spokeswoman said by phone today, declining to elaborate.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters in Jakarta today that he called Erwiana and her father and offered funds to help.

“The Hong Kong police has arrested the suspect, the law and justice will be upheld,” Yudhoyono said. He added that the Indonesian workers in Hong Kong are generally managed well.

Changes are being considered to the licenses of maid agencies to enhance the protection for foreign domestic helpers, said Commissioner for Labour Cheuk Wing-hing in an interview with Commercial Radio Hong Kong yesterday.

(Police correct name of woman in second and fifth paragraphs of story published Jan. 21.)
Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.