A Filipina who previously worked as a domestic worker in Hong Kong has been charged after it was discovered that her husband in the Philippines was still alive and she was not a widow as she declared when she married a Hong Kong man.
For over 22 years, TG Lam lived as a Hong Kong resident after her marriage with a local man and bearing a child with him.
But on Oct 16, she pleaded guilty at Shatin Magistrates’ Courts to the offense of signing a false notice for the purpose of procuring a marriage.
The prosecution said Lam misled the Hong Kong Immigration Department when she declared she was a widow so she could marry a Hong Kong man.
Lam first arrived in Hong Kong to work as a domestic helper. In 1994, she married a Hong Kong resident, became a permanent resident and gave birth to a son the following year.
However, it was later discovered that Lam was still married in the Philippines as her Filipino husband was still alive. Informed of the facts of the case, Acting Principal Magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing said the case was “serious.”
Lam’s defense lawyer argued that the case of the prosecution was that the defendant’s first marriage was not dissolved. But Judge To said the case seemed more serious, noting that the defendant was apparently enjoying “the fruit of a poisoned tree”, and as bigamy was illegal in Hong Kong, the marriage was invalid.
Before sentencing Lam, the magistrate said he needed more information about the case and remanded her in custody in the meantime.
The defendant’s lawyer sought bail, citing that the Filipina has a clear record in Hong Kong and was able to report to Mong Kok Police Station regularly.
“The reason she was not able to seek [dissolution of her marriage in the Philippines] was that when she came here, she lost contact with him,” the duty lawyer said.
Judge To, however, denied Lam’s bail application, saying the offense was serious as it constituted a “mockery” of Hong Kong’s immigration laws.
Vice Consul Robert Quintin, meanwhile, reminded Filipinos to secure proper and legal papers before entering into any civil contract in Hong Kong.