International Asia Singaporeans in Hong Kong worried over continuing protests

Singaporeans in Hong Kong worried over continuing protests

Some 15,000 Singaporeans currently reside in Hong Kong and several of them have expressed their trepidation on living in the city with the riots going on

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Singaporeans who have relocated to Hong Kong a few years back are now toying with the idea of going back to Singapore. This feeling is fuelled as tensions have aggravated in Hong Kong starting Monday (Aug 5). Police officers have tear gas and rubber bullets targeted at protesters, so much so many Singapore nationals residing in the financial hubs have begun feeling anxious about the city’s future.

In a statement to CNA media people, Hung Leung Chee, a 33-year-old Singaporean who moved to Hong Kong three years ago anxiously said, “Hong Kong has no future like this…….(The protests) have restricted my movements greatly since the unrest started back in June….I have been worrying about my way (sic) to work since last night. I have been keeping a close eye on the news since I woke up – mostly on traffic information….. I’m very much considering (sic) moving back to Singapore,” he said.

Fortunately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has not received reports of Singaporeans directly affected or injured by the protests in Hong Kong, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. There are an estimated 15,000 Singaporeans residing in Hong Kong.

The foreign minister advised that “Singaporeans who are residing in or visiting Hong Kong should take the necessary precautions” and that they should “stay vigilant, observe local laws, and monitor developments through the local media and regular updates from the Singapore Consulate-General in Hong Kong.”

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Chaotic scenarios

Roads were blocked and flights were cancelled on Monday after demonstrators erected huge barricades at the Hong Kong International Airport.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the city has been driven into an “extremely dangerous” territory. Over 400 people have been arrested by Hong Kong police since June nine of them for offences such as illegal assembly, assaulting police officers and rioting.

Some are anxious, some not fearful

Twenty-seven year old Elissa was in disbelief witnessing the riots and skirmishes across Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong has always been such a safe and efficient place. If you told me just three months ago that this would happen, I would have never believed it,” she said.

“It’s almost a norm now to expect some clashes and protests to happen somewhere every day.

Although some Singaporeans are deeply concerned about security and violence, others are not yet significantly or directly affected.

Confiding to a CNA reporter, 34-year old Nick, who works in finance said that “other than trying to stay at home on weekends when planned protests have been announced, I would say that it has not caused any major inconvenience to my lifestyle as of yet.”

“I do have to say though that there is a constant worry on how long more the protests will stay and evolve, seeing how there still has been no clear resolution in sight,” he added.

One reader told CNA that while she was affected by the closures and disruptions, she was not bothered by the protest-related “inconveniences” and was more concerned about the impact on Hong Kong’s financial sector and the reputation of the city. Another Singaporean said although he is not fearful “for now”, he will be keeping a close eye on developments.

“In general, up to yesterday, Singaporeans in Hong Kong have been able to keep track of protest areas and avoid those areas for safety,” said James Teo, a Singaporean lawyer living in Hong Kong.

“However, with protests now springing up spontaneously, like the occupation of the Causeway Bay yesterday, we no longer know which is the next area to be hit by protests and tear gas,” he said.

“Especially since police do not seem to take into account the neighbourhood surroundings when releasing tear gas, we now no longer know where the next danger area will be,” he said.

“I’m keeping a watchful eye on developments, and staying safe.” -/TISG

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