Singapore—While Ho Ching, the chief executive officer of Temasek Holdings and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, frequently posts on her Facebook page, she rarely comments at length when sharing other posts.
But on October 26, Ms Ho penned a lengthy post along with sharing an article from Bloomberg.
The article was published in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper entitled ‘Singapore begins to see some gains from Hong Kong’s months of unrest.”
Some folks in Hong Kong appear to have an obsession with SG as a “competitor”. Actually, the 2 economies are very…
The article termed Hong Kong as Singapore’s “long-time rival to the title of Asia’s pre-eminent financial centre”, and was only the latest among a string of articles from various publications on Singapore’s economic gains from Hong Kong’s troubles.
Goldman Sachs had recently reported an inflow of US$4 billion (approximately S$5.45 billion) between April and August of this year.
However, Ms Ho pointed out the substantial differences between the two economies, despite a shared legacy of the British colonial past.
She further pointed out that the real issue for Hong Kong is “what role it serves vis a vis China.” Where once the territory had served as a trading window to China, this role has evolved over time, especially with China’s “reform and economic liberalisation.”
Ms Ho said, “HK became a service centre for China.”
And in actuality, Hong Kong had never served the role of being a key financial centre for China, as this had always been Shanghai, along with other cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou.
She wrote, “So as China opened up, HK’s real competition is in China – Shanghai, Guangzhou and BJ.”
Furthermore, Ms Ho says obsessing over how money and people have moved to Singapore from Hong Kong “just misses the point.”
“So the real question is what role should HK play vis a vis China, and vis a vis the world.
Here are extracts of what Ms Ho wrote in her Facebook post:
“Being obsessed with the movement of some money and people to SG (and ignoring the movement of people and money elsewhere to USA, Canada, Australia, UK, esp for their professional talents), just misses the point.
“Just as we do not have a choice who our parents are, both HK and SG have no choice in their geographical locations.
“HK is bound to China in her history and geography, just as SG is firmly fixed geographically and geopolitically in South East Asia.”
She says the British used HK as a trading post for China, and SG as a trading post for spices in South East Asia.
“The added role for SG has been the headquarters of the British Far East Command, until WW2 broke the myth of British naval superiority.
“SG found its way to survive post independence. HK in the main depended on the largesse of China for a small sliver of services.”
Ms Ho also discusses Hong Kong’s actual significance to China.
“Over the last 22 years, the real value of HK to China is as a demonstrator of the One China Two Systems concept, as a way to try to entice Taiwan back into her fold.
“But if this is shown not to work, then the strategic value of HK vis a vis the all-important question of Taiwan for China will greatly diminish.”
THE SINGAPORE EXAMPLE
Ms Ho also shared her thoughts on what Hong Kong could learn from Singapore.
“Perhaps the example of SG could hold lessons for HK in terms of political pathways – municipal elections for people to look after their own districts, followed by self govt in all but defence and foreign affairs.”
And both cities need to re-think their roles in today’s world, she added, with an admonition for people to stay calm, and make decisions that will build a better future for everyone.
“So Hongkongers can best serve themselves by looking deep within themselves to decide what role they wish to play in and for China. Only when they can play a relevant role in and for China, would Hong Kong also find its role in the world too.
“Meanwhile, SG too needs to rethink its role in its own region and in the world, in the light of what the geo-economics, regional politics and technology will be doing to shape the flows of trade and business over the next decade and more.
“There are forces of nature too which can engulf us all – they are no respector of political ideologies or intentions – and they are more powerful than the defences which the most powerful nations can muster on earth.”
Finally, she says, “So keep well folks, stay calm, think deeply, and act methodically and decisively, for a better, kinder, safer world for our people and country, our families, our future generations.” /TISG