It has been a summer of rage for Hong Kong with the Asian financial hub witnessing unprecedented protests and unrest on its streets. With demonstrations stretching into the autumn with little sign of resolution, a surge in migration applications suggests that a major exodus from the special administrative region is underway.
A survey in June by global market research firm YouGov found that almost half the Hongkongers polled had thought about emigrating. Among the most popular destinations for Hong Kongers are Canada, Australia, UK, United States, New Zealand, and most recently Singapore.
But to the Hongkongers who wish to resettle in Singapore, here is reality check for what you can expect.
We don’t have real democracy
Singapore may be a first world country, but its approach to democracy displays the hallmarks of a third world dictatorship.
Free speech in Singapore is but an illusion with zero tolerance shown towards dissent.
If you wish to express an opinion and stand outside a building with a placard, you can be arrested for taking part in an “unlawful assembly” – yes, even if it’s just you.
Want to hold a Skype call with Hong Kong’s very own Joshua Wong? That’s also an “unlawful assembly”. The same applies if you show up for a public run wearing an anti death penalty t-shirt. Taking a picture while holding a placard? Also an “unlawful assembly”.
Forget about universal suffrage. Here, our President was “elected” without a single vote cast, after her 2 opponents “failed to qualify”.
The Constitution was changed to only allow minorities to run in selected Presidential Elections, but for some reason, we’re still “not ready” for a non-Chinese PM.
We are the most expensive city in the world
Hong Kong may have the worst inequality in the developed world, but Singapore leads the world in cost of living. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore has retained this title for five years.
Workers are treated like economic digits
Singaporeans work some of the longest hours in the world. And the government keeps telling us to work harder lest foreigners “steal our lunch”.
It is no wonder that Singaporean workers are among the most stressed at work globally.
There is no minimum wage and low income workers are constantly subjected to unfair employment terms and long working hours.
If disgruntled workers want to organize a strike for better working conditions, they’ll be swiftly rounded up and thrown in jail.
LGBT rights are non-existent
If you’re LGBT, expect to be treated like a second class citizen. Singapore still retains a colonial-era piece of legislation that outlaws sodomy, making it the only developed country in the world to do so.
Even while other developing countries like India, Angola, and Botswana do away with their archaic laws, Singapore’s government insists on retaining it.
LGBT individuals are routinely censored from the arts, media, books, events – all in the name of “family values”.
Our press is state-controlled
The mainstream media here sings to the tune of the ruling People’s Action Party. Alternative news websites critical of the government are routinely branded as “fake news” and their editors harassed.
In fact, when it comes to press freedom, Singapore ranks in the bottom 20 percent of the world, below countries like Russia, Venezuela, and Central African Republic.
Our fake news laws are also some of the most draconian in the world, with government ministers being given the discretion to decide if a story is “fake news”.