What do mainlanders think of Singapore?

Singapore and the unrest in Hong Kong: "Would, can and must never happen here"

There are similarities between the two metropolises, such as the importance of the financial center and industrial development. But Singapore became independent in the sixties, immediately promoted housing construction and the phase of self-discovery behind it.

Capital flight and business people turning their backs on Hong Kong; Increasing interest in Singapore real estate - and now hordes of tourists from China who spend the free days of "Golden Week" not in Hong Kong, but in more distant Singapore. The news suggesting that the city-state in the south is benefiting from the unrest continues. However, the picture is not quite that simple and clear.

Client advisors from private banking are cautious about the reallocation. But it is no longer a secret that they take place. The unanimous opinion is that interest in Singapore has already increased. And with every month and every further escalation, the corresponding inquiries would increase. What is striking, however, is the industry’s consistency with the government’s stance: Both downplay the facts. Singapore, which has close ties to Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities, does not want to be seen as a profiteer rubbing hands.

Numerous similarities

According to an estimate by Goldman Sachs, up to $ 4 billion has been reallocated in the past three months. Given the importance of the two financial centers, that would be a relatively small amount. But Hong Kong has the highest percentage of multimillionaires with over 10,000 people in the “Ultra High Net Worth” (UHNW) class; If the unrest persists and the nerves in Beijing are additionally strained, this could change quickly, according to Singapore's banking community. It also fits in with the fact that in Hong Kong balances are now increasingly held in US dollars instead of HK dollars.

The colonial past and British influence connect the metropolises with one another. Both are port cities with centuries of international renown, which at the time were the first in Asia to benefit from the boom in the post-war period. The cities, however, remained dependent on a hinterland: Hong Kong on mainland China, Singapore on Malaysia. Both are cosmopolitan, ethnically and culturally clearly Chinese. Their rise to economic and financial centers has also contributed significantly to the fact that here as there the standard of development and living has grown far beyond the surrounding countries.

Two important differences concern the living conditions and the identification of the citizens. One of the most far-sighted decisions made by the state's founder, Lee Kuan Yew, was the construction program for state-funded low-cost apartments. The Housing Development Board (HDB) gave every citizen a certain security and solidarity with the young state. In Hong Kong, the real estate market divides society. In Singapore, where home ownership has remained affordable, it has a unifying effect and communities are formed through the HDB concept. Singapore, too, initially struggled to find itself. However, this process that is troubling Hong Kong today came through Singapore six decades ago.

Benefit from the suffering of others

You don't like to hear it in Singapore, but that is also part of the reality: On its rapid economic run from the developing country to the First World from 1965, the republic has always benefited a little from the turmoil in the region. Unrest in Indonesia, discrimination against the Chinese in Malaysia, corruption in the Philippines, military coups in Thailand and sanctions against Burma's generals - all of this ultimately also promoted the quality of Singapore as a location because investors and specialists had few alternatives.

With increasing globalization and the growing integration of the Asean area, however, a lot has changed. Today Singapore only benefits occasionally from upheavals in the region. The positive economic impulses from the region, which has 650 million consumers, have meanwhile become much more important. The close economic ties between the two economies are one reason why the chaos in Hong Kong has been casting its shadow over the export nation for over four months. Should this even exacerbate the tensions between China and the USA, the Singapore economy, which is dependent on world trade, would be affected even more.

Would, can and must never happen here

There has also been a remarkable change in the perception and rhetoric of politicians in this country. In the first few weeks after the unrest began in June, there was a certain amount of uncertainty in Singapore. In contrast to the Honkis, the local population is easy to care for, rather apolitical and always calculates where the small advantage lies - which has secured power in elections for the properly incumbent ruling party PAP for sixty years. Nonetheless, the protests in Hong Kong showed how tight the boundaries of freedom of expression are in Singapore. “Dignity, can and must never happen here” is the prevailing opinion among the population.

The initial uncertainty has since vanished; The government sees Hong Kong differently today and argues clearly: Lawlessness and chaos dominate there - and the economic and social problems that prevailed there due to the extremely scarce housing are not known here. From this point of view, the lessons and conclusions of Singapore's politicians are consistent: it is impossible to solve socio-economic problems such as those in Hong Kong with police operations. Politicians are responsible for this, said the country's interior and justice minister recently. From this point of view, of course, one also indirectly communicates how good it is to live in Singapore in comparison. The pictures from Hong Kong certainly provide support for the upcoming election campaign.