On 20 June 2013, ISS-HK justified the slums to TVB claiming it was very difficult to get exact addresses in rural New Territories. Miss. Adrielle Panares explained, “Most of it is just a lot number, it doesn’t have a building address or anything. So for cases like this … our case workers will say, ‘Can I meet you at the bus stop? And then let’s go together’”.
Miss. Panares added that ISS-HK goes on a trust basis with local landlords that the units rented to their clients are legitimate. Panares also said that ISS-HK has case workers that follow each client and insists no one has raised any concerns about poor conditions with them.
In other confidential documents, Miss Panares defended the slums, “The landlords in the New Territories have document proof to show approval by the Lands Department for the structures in their properties … Our staff are in contact with the landlords during the negotiation for the rent and mode of payment.”
In May 2014, almost a year later, ISS-HK seem to have lost their tongue and decline press interviews to shed light on the refugee slums and food manipulation that have raised grave public concerns.
At a time when the Chinese media and society may be waking up to the disturbing conduct of this government contractor, ISS-HK is attempting to deflect attention by hiding behind lawyers and raising unacceptable excuses.
Nobody at ISS-HK said that they are looking into these matters because they are concerned about services to asylum seekers and refugees. Not one person said that they are investigating complaints and conducting due diligence to ascertain the veracity of such complaints.
Together with the Social Welfare Department, ISS-HK and ISS Geneva are holding a line that there is no need to take action unless criminal charges are brought. Mr. Stephen Yao, executive director of ISS-HK, cited his lawyers’ advice that it was not the right time to respond.
Instead of taking responsibility for ISS-HK’s disastrous failure to meet refugees’ basic needs, Mr. Yao attacked the integrity of Vision First which has been advocating for the rights and interest of refugees founded on hundreds, if not thousands, of complaints.
Vision First has not made any defamatory statements and ISS-HK’s lawsuit for defamation is wholly without merit. Vision First’s lawyers are in the process of preparing all underlying evidence which will be put before the court in due course and which we will be more than happy to share with the public at that time.
Mr. Yao has made it clear that he, his board of directors and case workers are looking forward to the entire world having the opportunity to look at the evidence of ISS-HK’s corrupt practices.