Commentator accused of racism for suggesting that Filipino chain Jollibee should be given COVID-19 testing order

Jollibee’s branch in Tseung Kwan O. Photo via Openrice
Jollibee’s branch in Tseung Kwan O. Photo via Openrice

A current affairs commentator suggested that Jollibee, a Filipino fast food chain, should come under the government’s mandatory COVID-19 testing order due to fears that a mutant strain could be spreading among domestic workers.

On his Facebook page Sunday, Jason Poon posted a picture of a crowded Jollibee store with text reading “Isn’t it strange? Two Filipino domestic workers in a row were diagnosed [with COVID-19], yet Jollibee has not been issued a compulsory testing notice.”

While many netizens appeared to agree with Poon and criticized what they perceived as government inaction, others were quick to point out the racist undertones of his post.

“This is racism. It’s actually not funny,” one person commented.

Another wrote: “Sigh, don’t fuel racism.”

Poon, who is managing director of construction firm China Technology, regularly publishes posts and videos of his commentary on local and international news on Facebook.

He is best known as the whistleblower at the center of the Sha Tin-Central MTR rail link scandal. In 2018, he leaked information to local media about a contractor’s cover-up of shoddy work—involving steel reinforcement bars that had allegedly been cut short instead of properly screwed on—at Hung Hom MTR station.

On Saturday night, Poon clarified that he has no intention to discriminate against domestic workers, and that he expresses regret for the misunderstanding he has caused.

Read more: Jollibee has the best fried chicken in Hong Kong, according to this South China Morning Post ranking

He added that he is a “regular” guest at Jollibee and visits the chain every week.

Known for its fried chicken, Jollibee is a fast food restaurant chain from the Philippines. It has 10 branches in Hong Kong including in Central, North Point and Mong Kok.

Poon’s comments came on a weekend that, for many domestic workers in Hong Kong, was spent lining up for COVID-19 tests at mobile stations. The government earlier ordered that the city’s 370,000 domestic worker take a compulsory virus test after a helper living with her employers in Tung Chung caught an untraceable mutated COVID-19 strain last week.

The government is also considering compulsory vaccinations for domestic workers.

The Equal Opportunities Unit said on Monday that such requirements are not racially discriminatory because they target an occupation.

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