Hong Kong domestic worker fired for cancer awarded damages

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Baby Jane Allas, a 38-year-old mother of five Filipina domestic worker who was sacked after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, reacts after a hearing at the Labour Tribunal in Hong Kong on April 15, 2019, which ordered her former employer to pay a settlement of 30,000 HKD in damages. (AFP)
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Baby Jane Allas (C), a 38-year-old mother of five Filipina domestic worker who was sacked after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, reacts as she stands with family members and supporters after a hearing at the Labour Tribunal in Hong Kong on April 15, 2019, which ordered her former employer to pay a settlement of 30,000 HKD in damages. (AFP)
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Baby Jane Allas, a 38-year-old mother of five Filipina domestic worker who was sacked after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, reacts after a hearing at the Labour Tribunal in Hong Kong on April 15, 2019, which ordered her former employer to pay a settlement of 30,000 HKD in damages. (AFP)
Updated 16 April 2019
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Hong Kong domestic worker fired for cancer awarded damages

  • Nearly 370,000 domestic helpers work in the city. Most are poor women from the Philippines and Indonesia performing menial tasks for low wages while living in often miserable conditions

HONG KONG: A domestic worker sacked after a cancer diagnosis was awarded damages by a Hong Kong court Monday, in a case that highlighted exploitation of foreign women toiling as maids in the wealthy financial hub.
Baby Jane Allas of the Philippines was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer in January and fired the following month by her employer, who cited the illness as the reason for termination.
The 38-year-old single mother of five instantly lost the right to health care and has had to regularly apply for visa extensions as she navigated Hong Kong’s legal and immigration systems while battling cancer.
She has been undergoing radiation therapy five days a week, along with chemotherapy one day a week.
Allas and her former employer — who was absent from Monday’s proceedings — reached a settlement of HK30,000 ($3,800) at Hong Kong’s labor tribunal for sickness allowance, medical fees and wages in lieu of notice.
“I am standing here right now to encourage more workers to come out if they have these kinds of cases,” Allas said outside the hearing.
Allas added she hoped to find another employer “who can really understand my situation and treat me well.”
She has separately filed claims with the Equal Opportunities Commission for wrongful termination and loss of earnings, which could be brought to the city’s District Court.
Allas previously told AFP that she spent just over a year working for a family of Pakistani origin who ordered her to work every day of the week.
She has also said she was routinely given stale leftovers to eat and slept on a thin comforter in a cluttered store room.
Nearly 370,000 domestic helpers work in the city. Most are poor women from the Philippines and Indonesia performing menial tasks for low wages while living in often miserable conditions.
Allas was accompanied to Monday’s hearing by supporters and family, including her eight-year-old daughter, who clung to her waist.
Her plight has generated widespread sympathy in Hong Kong and a fundraising campaign organized by her sister’s employer, Jessica Cutrera, has so far raised more than HK$900,000 for treatment.
A large part of Allas’ medical bills have been covered by hospital charities but expensive surgery will likely be needed to operate on her tumors, said Cutrera.


Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

Updated 23 May 2019
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Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

  • The vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month
  • Sultan Mosque was designated a national monument in 1975

KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore’s Sultan Mosque is a focal point for Muslims in the cosmopolitan city-state and the vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month of Ramadan when people from all walks of life flock to its bustling bazaars.

Kampong Glam is Singapore’s “Muslim Quarter” with a mix of Malay, South Asian and Middle Eastern elements. Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim, according to the latest official data.

Arab Street — an area that includes Bussorah Street, Haji and Bali Lanes and Muscat Street — is a hub for hipsters, vivid murals, Persian rug stores, shisha bars, perfumeries and textile shops, as well as being home to the distinctive golden domes of the Sultan Mosque. There is even an ornate archway welcoming people to explore the neighborhood and its distinctive shophouses, buildings that were used for working and living in. 

“We are more like brothers and sisters, rather than businesses. I know most of the customers and they know me too,” a 36-year-old biryani hawker who gave his name as Nareza told Arab News as he served a line of hungry clients.

Nareza said his stall’s signature dish was mutton biryani, made from a family recipe handed down through generations from his late grandmother. 

FASTFACT

Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim

“Dum biryani is a process of mixing meat and rice together in one pot, so the rice has a bit of the masala taste while the meat has a bit of the basmati rice fragrance,” he said, adding that he sold more than 300 portions of biryani a day. “I learned to make biryani from my father, who used to do charity work in the mosque. We make our own spices, we do not buy them from outside vendors. That is why the taste is different.”

The bazaar is packed with places selling food, drinks, decorations and homeware. The fare reflects Singapore’s international status, with eateries and stores selling kebabs, sushi and local Malay goodies.

But Singapore has a reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world and having a fast-paced lifestyle, leading some to focus on preserving culture and heritage for future generations.

“We want to create awareness about the significance of Sultan Mosque to the Muslim community,” juice stall owner Riduan told Arab News, saying all sale proceeds were donated to the Sultan Mosque. “Arab Street is unique because you see a lot of different races coming here and it is also a tourist attraction. This is where we demonstrate we are Singapore society. Singapore is not just limited to skyscrapers such as Marina Bay Sands.”