Singapore simply offering another choice

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 1996, 12:00am

I refer to the letter headlined, 'Think carefully before moving to Lion City', from 'Name and Address Supplied' (South China Morning Post, August 22), in which the writer accused the Singaporean Government of poaching the best brains and capital from Hong Kong by means of aggressive advertising.

The writer also urged the present as well as incoming Hong Kong governments to ban advertising that promotes emigration to other countries.

Some of the personal experiences the writer had with his Singaporean friends were also cited to support his negative impression about Singaporeans' poor attitude towards Hongkongers.

Emigration is a personal matter which involves factors such as quality of life, economic reality, political stability, educational facilities and so on. No society can afford to lose too many of its talented and wealthy people through emigration, but there is also no society which can successfully restrict emigration, if its people wish to leave.

However, it must be appreciated that only a few people have the means to emigrate and this will lead to a natural restriction in numbers. If Singapore does not pick up people who have already made the decision to leave Hong Kong, then they will move to places like Australia and Canada.

What difference does it make to Hong Kong, if they decide to go to Singapore instead? The advertising by the authorities in Singapore, offers people another choice, people who may prefer the Singaporean lifestyle to that of other countries. Given the interconnected nature of the global village, these people can even serve Hong Kong business in the long run, by providing Hong Kong with better access to the emerging South Asia and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) markets. Let us not forget that Hong Kong is also an immigrant society which opened its doors to Chinese mainlanders in the 1950s and early '60s. It is this constant inflow of new blood that has kept Hong Kong afloat so far. So what have we got to be afraid of? In terms of manpower resources, what matters to Hong Kong now is that we have to think of ways to attract those talented people who emigrated from Hong Kong, to return.

Their talents as well as their exposure to the West will definitely help make Hong Kong successful in the years to come. The influx of Chinese before and after 1997 should be welcomed, as many of them will help lead Hong Kong through uncharted waters after 1997.

As to the writer's unpleasant experiences with Singaporeans, I would say he should not over-react. I didn't think it was a big deal when I was called 'Hongkie'. We also call the Japanese 'gachai' and Caucasians 'gweilo' in our daily conversation. Overall, my experiences with Singaporeans have been pleasant.

'Singlish' and 'Kiasuism' were always joke topics that I discussed with my Singaporean friends. I have fond memories, as do many of my peers in Hong Kong, of the quality of life in Singapore. The sense of belonging has turned me and my kids to identify ourselves as Singaporean. We are proud of our Singapore identity and even prouder that we know so much about the two cities.