It was reported on South-China Morning Post last Sat (17 Aug) that Singapore appears to be the top choice for Hongkongers wanting to emigrate to, in view of the recent protests and turmoil in Hong Kong.
This is according SCMP after it spoke to 3 Hong Kong-based migration agencies – Midland Immigration Consultancy, John Hu Migration Consulting and Anlex. The agencies have reported an increase in inquiries from Hongkongers wanting to emigrate in recent weeks. They say Singapore appears to be a top choice, along with Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia.
The 34-year-old Hongkonger, Wel Sun, is one of those who want to get out of Hong Kong. After watching weeks of anti-government demonstrations, with ugly clashes between police and protesters and no end in sight, Sun decided to act. He is set on emigrating to Singapore with his wife and two young daughters.
He has done his sums, seen a migration consultant, set aside HK$500,000 (US$64,000) to move and even checked out property prices near Changi Airport. He has told his parents he is leaving.
“I don’t want to leave the city, because it is my home. But I don’t have other options,” he said. “Hong Kong will only deteriorate.”
He said he chooses Singapore for its political and economic stability. He is also attracted by the environment, culture and staying in the same time zone. “Singapore feels a lot like Hong Kong,” he said.
Migration agencies have reported a sharp increase in inquiries in recent months, and are struck by the number of young Hongkongers wanting to move to places in Asia such as Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia.
One emigration consultant said, “People have become more determined to leave Hong Kong. In the past, people would ring up for information, but now many say, ‘We want to leave now’ and we give them the application forms to fill.”
Dr Victor Zheng Wan-tai, assistant director of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at Chinese University, said that young Hongkongers face “downward mobility”. “Although they have high educational achievements, they find their work, job advancement and income not very promising,” he said. “They feel disappointed and therefore try to find a way out.”
Another Hongkonger wanting to leave Hong Kong is Sonia Lai, 23. She is thinking about moving to Singapore with her Singaporean boyfriend next year after finishing her training in Australia to be a chiropractor. She was already considering going to Singapore, but the political turmoil in Hong Kong has made her more determined to do so.
“I’m totally disappointed with the government for ignoring the sound of people from all generations,” she said. “I will miss everything in Hong Kong – part of me is still struggling with the decision to emigrate. I love the city; it is my home. But with this government, I see no future.”
She visited Singapore in June and found that people there have a strong sense of belonging. “Singaporeans are satisfied with their lives, and most have no worries about housing,” she said.
Indeed, many Hongkongers are not happy with the current overcrowded living conditions in Hong Kong, in addition to the political situation they are facing in Hong Kong now. The average living space per person in the city is 161 sq ft, similar to the size of a car parking space. Housing prices are astronomical in Hong Kong, angering many younger Hongkongers who do not own a house.
Even though Sun and Lai said they are aware of Singapore’s restrictions on freedom of speech, but both said stability is more important.