Singapore minister seeks more Hongkong migrants

Ian Stewart

A SINGAPORE Government minister has made a new pitch for Hongkong people to migrate there after announcing that the number of Hongkongers who have taken up permanent residence since July 1989 had reached about 4,700.

This is the first official estimate of Hongkong immigrants since early last year, when the number was reported to be about 3,500.

Speaking at the third annual dinner of the Kowloon Club, an association for Hongkongers living in Singapore, Dr Aline Wong, the Minister of State for Health, said the immigrants formed a ''small but significant community''.

Dr Wong said Singapore and Hongkong had much in common. Both had dynamic economies with modern infrastructures.

Hongkongers should consider these common factors when deciding whether to migrate to Singapore, she said.

In July 1989, Singapore liberalised its immigration rules with the specific aim of attracting Hongkongers.

It introduced a scheme allowing skilled or professional Hongkongers to become permanent residents, either by moving immediately to Singapore or acquiring in-principle approval for residency status, which could be taken up at some later date.

Dr Wong said that while take-home pay might be lower in Singapore than Hongkong because of Central Provident Fund contributions, Hongkong migrants should regard the government superannuation scheme, which provided old-age and housing benefits, as part oftheir wages.

''Singapore's Asian traditions, good education system, emphasis on bilingualism, good housing and a safe and clean environment are additional attractions.'' She suggested that members of the Kowloon Club encourage their friends and relatives to visit Singapore.

Dr Wong said Singaporeans could learn some useful lessons from Hongkongers' great entrepreneurial spirit.