Category Archives: Hong Kong

Abused Hong Kong maid Erwiana ‘rises again’

Yahoo - AFP, Agus Purwanto, 28 September 2018

Erwiana now works on behalf of migrant workers

She was once the face of abused maids in Hong Kong -- imprisoned, starved and beaten so badly she lost control of her bodily functions.

But four years after her horrific ordeal made global headlines, Indonesian Erwiana Sulistyaningsih is a university graduate and fighting for the rights of domestic helpers in the southern Chinese city and beyond.

Erwiana completed a degree in economics this month -- the culmination of a dream that brought her to Hong Kong in 2013 before her life was turned upside down.

"Before I went to Hong Kong, I had been dreaming I could make enough money to study," the 27-year-old told AFP from her home in Indonesia's cultural capital Yogyakarta.

"After the incident, I thought I might have to give up on that dream."

Erwiana's employer Law Wan-tung was jailed after pictures of her extensive injuries went viral in 2014.

Widespread media coverage of Erwiana's torture had one unexpected benefit -- she was offered scholarships to study.

"I'm happy but it's bittersweet because even though I graduated university there are still many migrant workers who are persecuted and treated badly," she said.

She chose economics partly to understand "why so many people in this world have to migrate" for work.

"People should be able to live peacefully in their own country without having to work abroad unprotected," she said.

Erwiana plans to take that message to demonstrations outside the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Bali next month.

Erwiana's horrific ordeal made global headlines

She now works on behalf of migrant workers, including pushing for the release of former Filipina maid Mary Jane Veloso who is on death row in Indonesia for drug smuggling.

Most domestic workers in Hong Kong are from poor communities in Indonesia and the Philippines and are vulnerable to abuse by employers and employment agencies.

Migrants from both countries have also suffered injury -- or worse -- in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

In February, the death of a Filipina maid in Kuwait, whose body was found this year stuffed in a freezer, sparked outrage in the Philippines.

Also this year, Indonesian domestic helper Adelina Sau died in hospital after being rescued from her employer's house in Malaysia's Penang state, with wounds covering her body. Her boss was charged with murder.

It is these stories that prompted Erwiana to fight for workers' rights, and never give up on herself even when she doubted her chances.

"I never imagined I'd be here -- I almost gave up," she said.

"I was so sick, I was a failed migrant worker and my injuries were all over the media.

"But because my family and fellow migrant worker friends gave me strength, I finally had the spirit to rise again."

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih arrives at the Wanchai Law Courts to begin giving
 evidence against her former employer who is accused of abuse and torture, in
Hong Kong on Monday. (AFP Photo/Isaac Lawrence)

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The Netherlands overtakes Switzerland in world competitiveness stakes

DutchNews, May 24, 2018

The Netherlands has overtaken Switzerland and moved into fourth place in the latest global competitiveness rankings published by IMD

The top five most competitive economies in the world remain the same as in the previous year, but their order changed in the 2018 rankings. The United States, third last year, returns to the top spot, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland. 

The Netherlands’ advance reflects a ‘balanced’ path to competitiveness, ranking in the top 10 in economic performance, government and business efficiency, IMD said. Switzerland declined mainly due to a slowdown in exports and, to a lesser extent, an increase in perceptions about threats of relocation of R&D facilities. 

The IMD World Competitiveness Center, a research group at IMD business school in Switzerland, has published the rankings every year since 1989. It compiles them using 258 indicators.

‘Hard’ data such as national employment and trade statistics are weighted twice as much as the ‘soft’ data from an executive opinion survey that measures the business perception of issues such as corruption, environmental concerns and quality of life. This year 63 countries were ranked. 

The Netherlands is also currently ranked 4th on the World Economic Forum‘s list of the 138 most competitive countries, behind Switzerland, the United States and Singapore.

Indonesia, Hong Kong Sign Treaty on Taxes

Jakarta Globe, Dion Bisara, March 23, 2010

Indonesia and Hong Kong sealed a taxation treaty on Tuesday that officials said would eliminate double taxation while reducing tax evasion through cross-border transactions. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Hong Kong Finance Secretary John Tsang signed the pact in Jakarta.

Under the agreement, Indonesia will reduce taxes on Hong Kong investors’ income from dividends, royalties and interest from financial products, as well as profits generated by branches of Hong Kong companies operating in Indonesia.

Indonesia currently taxes these categories of income at 20 percent.

Syarifuddin Alsah, director of tax regulation at the Finance Ministry’s Directorate General of Taxation, said Hong Kong investors’ income tax on dividends and interest will be cut to 10 percent, while the tax on interest from financial products will be lowered to 5 percent.

Meanwhile, Indonesian companies operating in Hong Kong will no longer be subject to double taxation. Any Hong Kong tax paid by Indonesian companies will be deductible from any tax owed in Indonesia.

“This agreement hopefully is going to strengthen the integrity of Indonesia’s tax system, especially by allowing the exchange of taxpayers’ information, including bank information,” Sri Mulyani said. She added that the treaty will provide more certainty to cross-border investors. “It will enhance the economies of both countries,” she said.

Tsang said bilateral trade between Indonesia and Hong Kong grew by an average of 9 percent annually between 2005 and 2009.

“Last year trade between Hong Kong and Indonesia was worth $4.5 billion,” he said. “It’s hard to say the exact effect of the treaty but hopefully the trade of both countries will improve by double digits in the next five years or even sooner.”

Pontas Pane, interim director of intelligence and investigation at the Directorate General of Taxation, said the treaty would make it harder for people to evade taxes by hiding their assets abroad.

Chris Kanter, deputy chairman for investment at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said the treaty would help Indonesian companies that have branches in Hong Kong.

“Certainly this treaty with Hong Kong will boost our trade with them,” he said.

The tax agreement was the 59th signed by Indonesia. It has similar treaties with countries including the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

It is the third such treaty signed by Hong Kong, which recently signed similar tax treaties with Brunei and the Netherlands.

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HK Signs Tax Treaty With Netherlands; More Agreements Expected

Singapore, for the first time, cooperative on Robert: Susno

The Jakarta Post | Wed, 01/20/2010 3:37 PM

Former National Police chief of detective Comr. Gen. Susno Duadji said Wednesday that Singapore had cooperated with Indonesia in recovering the Bank Century money stolen by its own owner Robert Tantular.

"Singapore, for the first time, gave us details of Robert Tantular’s bank account, containing US$14 million. This had never happened before," Susno said.

Not only Singapore, but Australia and Hong Kong had also cooperated with the National Police to freeze Robert's assets in those countries, Susno said.

However, Susno explained that another shareholder, Rafat Ali Rizvi, was still hiding in Singapore.

“He cannot leave Singapore. Even if he went back to the UK, he would be arrested there,” Susno said.

Susno explained that Robert Tantular was "sly and slick", noting that he had created fictitious companies to rob the bank.

"His crime was very well-planned," he said.

A Jakarta District Court convicted Robert Tantular of stealing money from Bank Century and sentenced him to four years in prison. The High Court confirmed the verdict but increased the jail term to five years.