ISS-HK hides behind lawyers as police investigate

Post Date: May 14th, 2014 | Categories: Advocacy | COMMENT

On 9 May 2013, sickened by the slums in Ping Che, Vision First published a landmark blog, “The Compound Under a Tree”. The point was made that the ISS-HK had callously settled refugees in appalling living conditions that we would robustly countered as a matter of social justice.

This seminal report listed several reasons why the squalid reality of refugee ghettos should be exposed: exploitation by slum lords, dangerous and unsanitary living conditions, illegal structures not fit for living and fraudulent disbursement of government funds.

The article concluded firmly stating that refugee slums are an affront to Hong Kong citizens who put their trust in the government to do what is right and dignified in welfare services to refugees.

One year later, on 12 May 2014, Vision First wrote an open letter to the members of the Board of Directors of ISS-HK asking whether they condoned the sponsoring and supporting of 65 refugee slums exposed by Vision First in 2013.

Perhaps unnerved by the unravelling of a complex reality, the ISS-HK directors are hiding behind lawyers at Fairbairn Catley Low & Kong. On 14 May 2014, the law firm replied that, “since legal proceedings have been commenced, our client shall not make further comments thereon.

ISS-HK attempts to circumvent accountability and transparency by hiding behind a defamation suit has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of 65 refugee slums and food manipulation that hemorrhages 50,000,000$ from the government purse yearly.

If Vision First were to vanish overnight, the evidence of the slums and food scam would not.

We have been informed that the secretary of ISS-HK director and lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung turned down a press interview with the excuse that the Honorable Mr. Tam is very busy and is *not* involved with the day-to-day management of refugee service program.

It is noteworthy that that Mr. Tam Yiu-chung was appointed to the ISS-HK Board of Directors on 23 November 1999, and for 15 (fifteen) years proudly carried out the role, duties and responsibilities vested within such an key appointment. Is the Honorable Mr. Tam washing his hands of it?

Stephen Yao is the executive director of ISS-HK and indisputably responsible strategic decisions and overall operations. Mr. Yao is hiding behind his secretary, Miranda, who informed that, “the matters are subject to a defamation suit and we must ask the lawyers.”

Most readers will agree that these are two completely unrelated topics. The Vision First website could vanish overnight, but evidence of the slums and food scam will not be swept under the carpet no matter how high up in the government ISS-HK connections are.

While not privy to police investigations, credible sources inform us that Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers are swarming around ISS-HK services to refugees in Kowloon and across the New Territories.

There are reports of police investigating the food manipulation and interviewing participants across the distribution chain on evidence of fraudulent practices, many of which were first exposed by this website ISS-HK alleges being defamatory. If that were so, why are police investigating?

CID officers inspected and photographed the slums and presumably took action at one location where refugees reported that, “ISS-HK case workers want us to move to a good place as they will stop paying rent here this month. They said we must move out immediately and they will pay deposits.”

It is further reported that police are investigating an ISS-HK shelter where apparently more than 25 refugees were listed as currently residing, although only one family has lived there for the past eight months. Vision First is familiar with the ISS-HK practice of showing bogus addresses on contracts.

The police make no secret about surveillance and word in the street is that many individuals associated with International Social Service are persons of interest. Meanwhile, and in sharp contrast, police patrols walk by the Refugee Union protest camp in Central without batting an eyelid.