The “complementarity” between Hong Kong and Singapore as Asia’s prime financial hubs – despite popular perception of the two cities being fierce competitors – may signal trouble for the latter, as denizens of the Chinese special administrative region continue to push for the complete withdrawal of the controversial extradition Bill, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)’s managing director Ravi Menon.
Speaking to reporters at a briefing on MAS’ annual report in its Shenton Way headquarters yesterday (27 Jun), Mr Menon also revealed that despite media reports indicating high net worth Hong Kongers moving their assets to various locations abroad, including to Singapore, he has not observed any significant financial changes here with regards to the purported move.
In dispelling the commonly held view that the financial and economic relationship between Hong Kong and Singapore is characterised primarily by stiff competition, Mr Menon was quoted by TODAY as saying: “Both Hong Kong and Singapore are very attractive financial centres with unique strands and business propositions.”
He added that Singapore has also “built our value proposition through sound regulation, a predictable and facilitative business environment, and being at the heart of a very thriving and dynamic South-east Asia”.
Nonetheless, the civil unrest in Hong Kong over the extradition Bill and Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s leadership coupled with the looming US-China trade war may negatively affect economic outcomes in the rest of Asia, and Singapore will not be exempt from such outcomes, said Mr Menon.
Concerns were raised over the scope of powers that will be granted upon certain jurisdictions Hong Kong decides to extradite crime suspects to – particularly mainland China – should the amendment bill be passed, as certain factions remain sceptical of Beijing’s capacity to refrain from abusing the extradition arrangements.
Amnesty International warned that the proposed legislation “would extend the ability of the mainland authorities to target critics, human rights activists, journalists, NGO workers and anyone else in Hong Kong”.
Raymond Chan Chi-chuen of the pro-democracy party People Power told SCMP that while a delay may be helpful in the short term, “it will not work, as long as they don’t retract the bill”.
“People are ready for further action,” said Chan.
Founding chairman of the opposition Democratic Party and senior politician Martin Lee told Bloomberg last Fri that the extradition Bill is “a thoroughly bad idea”, adding that “Hong Kong people can only continue to demonstrate, and I hope peacefully, so that the world, the rest of the world, will speak up for us”.