Hong Kong vs Singapore: Who’s Getting Ahead?
The relationship between Singapore and Hong Kong is one of rivalry. In the economic sense, I mean. We vie to be Asia’s financial hub, compete to be a haven for investors and rich migrants among others. But one realm in which Singapore never aspired to beat its rival is that of civil liberties – freedom of speech, protest rights and others. Singapore ranked 135th in the 2011 press freedom index, way behind Hong Kong which is in 54th place. Till this day, there is only one designated spot for public speeches and gathering in Singapore. The vibrant media, freedom of speech and protest cultures Hongkongers enjoy have always filled me with envy.
But recent developments in Hong Kong have been rather disturbing, and all-too-familiar to what we experience here in Singapore. In a tumultuous year, Hongkongers have vociferously challenged government policies that led to the influx of Mainlanders; some Hong Kong media have shamelessly doctored the content of a an opinion piece, obsequiously glorified the Beijing-anointed Chief Executive elect and engaged in self-censorship; several high-level officials were mired in corruption and other scandals, including extramarital affairs and illegal home construction.
As Hong Kong approaches its 15th year under Chinese rule, the future of the city seems so gloomy that my Chinese friend keen on settling in Singapore remarked that the overall situation in Hong Kong would continue to deteriorate, while Singapore would only get better. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive elect CY Leung, who takes office from Donald Tsang on 1 July, has also been singing praises of Singapore, if for dubious reasons (scaremongering, apparently). Some newspapers echoed his views, citing “experts” who apparently do not know much about Singapore. On the other hand, some Singaporeans also believe that Hong Kong has an edge over Singapore in governance. It seems timely to do a comparison to clear the air.
Scorecards: A Look at Global Rankings
To start off, South China Morning Post (SCMP) has already published a pointed rebuttal to CY Leung’s claim that Singapore outshines Hong Kong because of a larger GDP. In it, the author has argued cogently why GDP figures are a measure of the appearance of wealth more than actual wealth. So yes, Singapore has glitzier GDP figures than Hong Kong, but it doesn’t mean Singapore is necessarily “better off”.
In fact, scouring the Internet for global surveys and rankings, we find that the two cities are very much on par with each other in terms of their economic and financial performance. Here’s a self-explanatory overview:
However, when it comes to the cost of living, Singapore outdoes Hong Kong by far. In 2001, Singapore was ranked 97th in the EIU Worldwide Cost of Living; it leaped to the top ten spots in a decade. In contrast, Hong Kong fell from 3rd place in 2001 to 22nd over the same period. Wage levels are almost the same in the two cities, but Hong Kong’s DPP is higher.
Ranked 13th among countries/regions with the most unequal distribution of family income, Hong Kong’s rich-poor gap is larger than Singapore’s. It was reported recently that Hong Kong’s gini coefficient rose from 0.525 in 2001 to 0.537 in 2011; in comparison, Singapore’s gini coefficient grew from 0.456 to 0.482 over the same period. After taxes and social benefits are taken into account, however, Hong Kong’s gini coefficient would have remained at the 2006 level of 0.475. The city is far more generous in meting out social benefits than “stingy nanny” Singapore. And oh, unlike Hong Kong, Singapore has not implemented minimum wages.
In the sphere of civil liberties and press freedom, Singapore is a laggard but the government has no qualms about it. Though both cities are classified as “partly free” by Freedom House, Hong Kong’s civil liberties is rated 2 whereas Singapore is rated 4 (1 representing the most free and 7 the least free). Hong Kong also fares better in the Human Development Index. Nonetheless, by various measures of happiness, Singaporeans appear to be a happier lot than Hongkongers (how would you, the reader, explain this?).
What’s the Verdict?
So there you go. It’s a tight race between Hong Kong and Singapore in the economic and financial domains. Simply saying Singapore is a cut above because it has a higher GDP is cherry-picking. Hong Kong’s rich-poor gap is mitigated by taxes and social transfers, after which its gini coefficient is close to that of Singapore. Hongkongers also have higher purchasing power, and living in Hong Kong today is more affordable than in Singapore. Even if rent is included, Singapore is still more expensive than Hong Kong. In civil liberties and press freedom, Singapore has pretty much nothing to boast about. But all in all, Singaporeans are a happier people.
What are the prospects of democratization for the two cities?
Both cities are not “electoral democracies” by Freedom House’s definition. PAP domination in the political process is one reason why Singapore is not an electoral democracy; Hong Kong’s political chief is elected by a small electorate while only about half the seats in its legislature are directly elected.
Hong Kong’s outlook for democratization is grim because of one word – China. Beijing is clearly foisting on Hong Kong the so-called China model of political repression cum economic liberalization. Come 2017, 3.4 million Hongkongers may finally get to elect their chief. But there is no knowing if Beijing may alter the rules of the game or pull strings behind the scene to ensure only approved candidates may stand for election before Hongkongers vote. Because China is unlikely to loosen its grip over civil liberties in both the Mainland and Hong Kong, Hongkongers have to continue to defend their rights and freedoms, an uphill task against the colossal state machinery of mainland China.
Although Hong Kong has dozens of newspapers, there are signs that even reputable newspapers like Mingpao have compromised on journalistic integrity. SCMP is the latest casualty. Given that Hong Kong’s press freedom plunged 20 places in one year, there is major cause for concern. What will become of Hong Kong’s civil liberties in the next five years under Leung, allegedly an underground Communist Party member, who had shown scant tolerance for criticism and dissent?
Disenfranchised Hongkongers influence government policy by taking to the streets and voicing out their unhappiness. Notably, half a million people went on the streets in 2003 to stop the legislation of the controversial Article 23, and subsequently forced unpopular chief Tung Chee-hwa to step-down before his term ended. In Singapore, where there is no autonomous space for political participation, our only saving grace is the once-in-five-years General Election (GE). Since the last GE, there have been signs that the government is slightly more responsive, but at the same time, very little has changed in its style of governance.
Press freedom in Singapore shows no sign of expanding soon while the internet continues to empower the younger generation. PAP domination in the political process may recede, albeit gradually, as more opposition members are voted into parliament. But a viable alternative government is yet to evolve. That Singaporeans are happy with their lot may not be a good thing too. That may signify that most are content with the status quo and are less likely to vote for change. In contrast, Hongkongers may be less happy because they have always been politically shrewder or savvier and have a sense of crisis unlike more complacent Singaporeans. This distinction in character between the two peoples is crucial because ultimately, it is the people who make all the difference.
On the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, I salute the indomitable spirit of Hongkongers in upholding their rights and freedom against the odds. Singaporeans have much to learn from them.
Good article. I’ll however like to caution against misleading readers that Singapore is not an “electoral democracy”, because Singapore is a democracy and PAP domination is what the electoral chose. Single party domination doesn’t mean it’s not a democracy.
Thanks Pehon. The thing is, there are many definitions of a democracy, depending on what the criteria are. So by Freedom House’s standards, Singapore is not an electoral democracy:
“Singapore is not an electoral democracy. The country is governed through a parliamentary system, and elections are free from irregularities and vote rigging, but the ruling PAP dominates the political process. The prime minister retains control over the Elections Department, and the country lacks a structurally independent election authority. Opposition campaigns are hamstrung by a ban on political films and television programs, the threat of libel suits, strict regulations on political associations, and the PAP’s influence on the media and the courts.”
Yeah the fact that the elections department resides under his office is a point for contention.
Thanks for the clarification. Agreed with your definition of Democracy and Electoral Democracy.
Just wanted to clarify as i have some younger cousins telling me that “my teacher say Singapore isn’t a democracy”, which you and I know is wrong by all kinds of definitions.
Sounds like the US, except that the US has vote rigging, voting by people in cemeteries, and cartoon characters and our electoral college system is for sale. It takes two hundred and seventy votes to win an election and they are for sale. The rest is window dressing. Look up Karen Hudes.
Hi Pehon, It’s great that we have this discussion going. But actually, I also would not classify Singapore as a democracy. In political science, despite efforts to standardize the definition of democracy, alternative conceptions have proliferated. For instance, some call Singapore an “illiberal democracy”, or “authoritarian democracy” (somewhat oxymoronic terms). But these “diminished” subtypes of democracy apply less stringent criteria and may have stretched the concept of democracy too far. Having regular elections/universal suffrage is but one criterion for a democracy. Without press freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, rule of law etc., a regime cannot be labeled a “democracy” in my view.
Yeah agreed. I did have this discussion before with a friend of mine who also did political science and I’ve however come to terms that having a regular elections to allow the people to choose their leaders is the basis of democracy and hence by basic definition, i see Spore as a democracy.
I would argue the lack of freedom of press, speech and assembly (we do have a well defined rule of law) was a elected choice by the electorate, as we are as a whole allowed to vote against those, which we haven’t for years.
The whole reason why we haven’t, i think would be an entire discussion on its own.
This is stark in comparison if we compare to China, where people can’t voice their opinions thru regular elections. For example, if we hated corruption of the Premier and his team, we can’t vote him and his party out. We can only hope the Premier does something about it.
So thats my take. I’m not pro-PAP by the way.
Certainly. I see your point too. Nice exchanging views with you, and btw your political stance is not an issue. 🙂
If you measure democracy by the use of mass elections, sure, Singapore passes, but so does Assad. Democracy is about accountability – a free election is one way of making the government accountable to the people, along with a free press and independent judiciary. In Singapore, people are constantly being exhorted to live up to the expectations of their bossy government, not the other way around.
Great post comparing HK and SIng though. As HKer I think the unhappiness of people here is a sign that people are tired of government incompetence, weakness and BS. We just want to be able to directly elect some reasaonably effective and honest leaders who can tackle pollution and inequality, will protect our freedoms, and won’t waste our funds on stupid boondoggles.
Totally agree with your notion of a democracy. And thanks for your take on the happiness issue from the perspective of a Hongkonger!
the S’pore govt and the u.s. govt share the same strategic outlook toward Asia and beyond for a very long time. but the hk (sar) govt has to follow instructions from the central beijing govt.
That Hong Kong is not a sovereign state is to its detriment, and precisely why the HKSAR government seems so helpless in solving the problems the city faces today. The LegCo is dominated by pro-establishment business interests. The necessary political reforms and direct elections Hongkongers prefer, as indicated in past opinion polls, have been delayed by Beijing time and again. Hongkongers have also lost confidence and trust in their government.
Overseas Hongkie here. Just a wild shot in the dark, but if Hong Kong were to get some true autonomy and become a full-fledged sovereign city state, personally, I’d prefer it to join up with Singapore, or at least form a union or alliance of some kind, more so than with other nations. IMO, there is no better and worthier equal to Hong Kong than Singapore. I find the relationship between the two city states kind of analogous to that of the Nordic nations such as Norway, Sweden, and Finland, somewhat similar in some aspects yet very different in others.
I have a wilder thought – won’t it be great if Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan can form an alliance to counter the influence of China? The three societies can be the exemplar of what Chinese societies can achieve – Hong Kong and Singapore can learn from Taiwan’s experience in democratization, the three can share experiences on economic development, bureaucratic efficiency, and cosmopolitanism. Talk about soft power!
Well said, I agree with you. I have also entertained the thought of Taiwan being part of that alliance. The people there are also relatively on the same page as us, as far as the PRC threat is concerned, though I do see greater empathy from Sporeans. As you have mentioned, the three states can really share their experiences and expertise, and complement one another. These states are very diverse in their strengths and uniting them together will greatly strengthen the three combined. Furthermore, when it comes to a countering the influence of China, the SG/HK/TW alliance or union would have far more powerful allies such as the US and Japan, then India, Australia, etc. Even a giant, no matter how large, can only fight so many sides at once. 😉
Forgot to mention, a very well written article which not only compares the age-old economic rialry but also more relevantly, it captures the current political and social affairs of the city states.
I don’t quite remember the name of the Taiwanese scholar anymore, but his surname could be Wu and he wrote this book called the Hong Kongization of Taiwan… where he mentioned that there should be a union of civilians from both Hong Kong and Taiwan, in addition to democratic-minded Chinese, towards countering the CCP’s iron fist. If this sort of gathering will ever exist, I hope that the Sporeans can join in as this would be a huge step towards the beginning of a pan-ethnic Chinese federation of states where power is truly in the hands of the people through universal suffrage.
The idea you mentioned is intriguing, but I am doubtful that Singaporeans will proactively join such a union of civilians to counter China. In culture and identity, second and third generation Singaporean Chinese like myself don’t feel that our roots are in China and we don’t care where exactly our forefathers came from in China (it is a non-issue to us). Unlike Taiwanese and Hong Kongers, we have not acquired a deep understanding of Chinese history, culture, literature etc through our “pragmatic” education. Our grasp of Mandarin is mostly limited to conversational Mandarin, and I would say most of us can’t write well in Chinese (except for the “Chinese-educated” which is a dying breed, and the Chinese-oriented which is not significant in numbers). In fact, most Singaporeans will feel closer to Southeast Asia than Northeast Asia in cultural terms, and in terms of values we are slanted towards the West. Stuff like Confucian values is very alien to us.
Singaporeans do feel threatened by China today – but only because of the influx of Chinese migrants to our society. Once the number of Chinese migrants dwindle, this sense of threat will fade too. The toxic consumables & defective products China exports, and the cultural dominance it tries to exert over Taiwan and Hong Kong, do not really affect Singaporeans because of our strict import controls, because we are not in close geographical proximity, and because we don’t relate to its culture at all. Unless one day China goes all the way out in its belligerent behavior, then Singaporeans will sit up and take notice. But when that happens, we will align ourselves with ASEAN, not Northeast Asia, to defend our country against China. This is realpolitik.
In the event that CCP collapses and China falls into turmoil once again, then an alliance between Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore (at the state level) seems viable and practical. Will this day ever come?
The SCMP critic is worth thinking through, but if I was in the pro-PAP camp, I would easily point out that net factor income negative does not mean Singaporeans are not benefiting from the FDI. For one, Singapore investments overseas could be retained overseas (eg to avoid capital gains taxes, or in the case of China, reinvested in new projects), dividends could be re-invested rather than repatriated again to avoid foreign taxes, whereas foreign investments here benefit from tax free capital gains, hence the willingness of foreigners to repatriate their earnings. One could also look at the 2 PCE charts and think about the differences between HK and SP as the same debate between US and China: the US like Hk has a mainly service-based economy, whereas SP and many Asian countires are more like China. Overall, I disgaree that the SCMP article using PCE and net factor income have fairly compared SP and HK. I also disagree with his rather cheeky preamble that the movement of currencies would be sufficient to explain the closing of the gap between SP and HK as forex reflects economic fundamentals as well. I think the best way to compare is to look at how the median real per capital income in local currency terms (adjusted for purchasing power) have evolved, secodnly to look at the same for the btoowm 20% and top 20% of population, and third how net household assets have evolved to gauge the progress of each.
Thank you for your analysis – your comments about the SCMP article are very insightful indeed. Can I ask about your statement on “the US like Hk has a mainly service-based economy, whereas SP and many Asian countires are more like China” – from my understanding, services also make up about 70% of Singapore’s GDP, so in this sense isn’t Singapore similar to HK?
“Services” as defined under GDP computation comprises among other items, “PCE”, as well as many non-PCE items. For example, non-PCE items might include tourism, entreport trade, banking, logistics etc: So while “services” as % of GDP in SP is high, unlike HK, a much bigger portion of our services comes from non-PCE items.
And you are correct, I should qualify the statement by saying “the US like Hk has a mainly service-based economy which emphasise personal consumption, whereas SP and many Asian countires are more like China which have policies to systematically de-emphasise personal consumption in favour of investments”.
We should also find time at this stage of SP’s development to discuss policies which de-emphasise personal consumption eg CPF (which suck personal savings away from PCE diverting it to industrial or infrastructural investments aka Temasek-linked co and GLCs) and SWF investments (aka GIC). Should a country focus on spending, whether useful or not (eg HK pays as much or more than our COE to buy a parking space. they pay just as much as us for a much smaller flat) or lend it to the government to subsidise MNCs to build billion dollar pharma or semicon plants which create jobs for as many foreign workers as locals? The answer I suspect is not so clear. China is now thinking hard on why they are recycling most of their foreign reserves to the US to fuel US private consumption instead of consuming it themselves on a better social safety net etc The problem as I see it in SP is there is no real courage among the politicians and no originality among the senior civil servants to lead the debate, we essentially have a convenient consensus at the “top for status quo. HK has also the same consensus among its people for their status quo. How many of the hundred thousands who marched last week really understood what democracy meant? Why didn’t they march when the British empire ruled HK? I suspect they will find Kwasi Kwrateng’s latest book “Ghosts of Empire” rather interesting because HK has always been a “staus quo” place since 1841, HKers have essentially rejected earlier attempts by one or two governors to give them greater democracy. Had they been more receptive, HK would have become independent perhaps well before SP.
I see your point. Your questions on spending are very interesting too and worth exploring. I really appreciate you taking the time to pen down your thoughtful comments.
As for the book “Ghosts of Empire,” I have not read it and will find a chance to. But you may be mistaken about Hong Kongers not demanding for more democracy under the British – this is in fact a common misunderstanding. My Hong Kong colleague familiar with the city’s history recommends these books if you wish to find out more:
1) Tai-Lok Lui and Stephen W.K.Chiu, “Social Movements and Public Discourse on Politics”, Hong Kong’s History—State and Society under Colonial Rule, edited by Tak-Wing Ngo, New York : Routledge, 1999:
“In the face of more vocal expressions of discontent since the mid-1960s, the colonial administration had taken the initiative ‘to stir up a sense of citizenship among residents’ and to change its style of governance and public image ‘from benevolent authoritarianism to wider consultation and a concern with achieving “consensus government”’ (P.110)
2) 李彭廣, 管治香港：英國解密檔案的啟示, 牛津大學出版社﹝中國﹞, 2012:
“1966年, 英國殖民地部殖民地政務次官(Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies)懷特夫人(Mrs Eirene White)在訪港後的報告書中, 已提及社會對當時管治累積了相當不滿的情緒. 她認為香港社會要求在本地事務有較大的公眾參與比政府承認的來得更強烈.”
The demands for greater participation and democratization intensified with the proliferation of political pressure groups from the 1980s onwards, after the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
This is a very good article! A good analysis indeed!
Thank you! Do share the link with your friends.
Sorry but table 2 is a huge contradiction. The table shows how Singapore ranks 10th for price levels while Hong Kong ranks 37th. The table also shows that Singapore ranks 9th in cost of living while Hong Kong ranks 22th. It shows how wage levels are about the same, and yet makes the conclusion that purchasing power is worse in Singapore (47th) than in Hong Kong (40th).
If prices are lower in Singapore while wages are the same then it would stand to reason that purchasing power is higher in Singapore. Purchasing power is not a measurement that comes out of the blue.
Then you go on to claim that ‘Even if rent is included, Singapore is still more expensive than Hong Kong.’
What do you mean ‘even if rent is included’? housing is the number one expense for many households so it wouldn’t make any sense to talk about the cost of living of a place while ignoring rent. Secondly, how can you claim that Singapore is more expensive, considering that your own table ranks Singapore 9th for cost of living and Hong Kong, 22th.
You are not making sense to me, TalkingHead. Look at the Table again and think harder.
Whatever those numbers… Rent is NOT a factor for most Singaporeans as they purchase their own house (private or HDB). Whereas it is even very difficult for HK graduates to buy their own property.
Those indexes are computed based on expats needs and not locals. So it should not be taken seriously when comparing which place is more affordable by local perspective.
The point is with or without rent, Singapore is more expensive than Hong Kong by the EIU index. According to WSJ, Singapore’s inflation is also higher than HK over the last 15 years (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203406404578072280673821040.html).
And owning a property is increasingly difficult for both Hongkongers and Singaporeans (http://sg.news.yahoo.com/3-reasons-t-afford-house-160000426.html).
Your argument that the cost of living index does not apply to locals has also been proposed by a local research institute (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy), which came up with its own ranking. You can take a look at the arguments against this self-serving survey: http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/08/11/ng-kok-lim-exposes-flaws-in-lky-school-of-public-policy’s-effort-to-debunk-ubs-study/
[…] stall its progress and turn it into a economic backwater lagging behind other mainland cities and long-time rival Singapore, suddenly find that a “strong” government is not such a bad idea after […]
I’ve come across this piece since I’m a Hong Konger dating a Singaporean. I’ve been reading news of both jurisdictions and while I do take the passion of safeguarding civil liberties in Hong Kong as highly appreciable (especially in light of Beijing), I’d like to bring up that more and more of us are bearing a radical mentality with degree exceeding the practically beneficial.
Democrats are definitely needed to balance against pro-Beijings. Yet the balance is, from the beginning, not possibly effective in these tens of years as i foresee, because the extent of effective and systematic influence by pro-democrats is obviously limited by the governmental framework. I view what HK’s in as an inevitable historical problem.
The result of lack of cooperation and trust is that Hkers, no matter of what political stance, over-politicise things. Plus, the system simply does not permit easy improvements on governance. The property developers in HK is certainly taking a BIG advantage of this at HK people’s expense.
With such growing negativity in the social environment (substantially enhanced by the “rule of property developers” much wider in influence than Singapore’s), every sector is affected. “Kia-su”ness/Kancheong (of same level if not greater than that among SGeans’) and sentimentalism is everywhere. I can’t agree with the Author more that the population of SG would be happier.
So, as long as the city-state is overall well and there are checks-and-balances on governmental power, it might not be incorrect to view reasonable limitations on freedoms as acceptable in Singapore. Plainly, you guys waste much less time and resources without being less competitive.
You said “the extent of effective and systematic influence by pro-democrats is obviously limited by the governmental framework.” I agree, if by “governmental framework” you mean the institutional designs such as a non-popularly elected CE and the functional constituencies in the LegCo. But I do not think the problem is inevitable; it’s just that the necessary reforms are not in Beijing’s interests, hence the political gridlock that forces contention to take place outside of the political institutions. In a way the politicisation of matters and the declining trust in government are Beijing’s own doing.
There are hardly any checks and balances on the Singapore government to speak of, and all is not well in Singapore. My longer response to some of your points may be found in my latest post here: https://singaporearmchaircritic.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side-or-is-it/
Maybe your significant other can tell you more about the problems with our political system and PAP 🙂
Otherwise you can also get more information from a non-government mouthpiece here: http://theonlinecitizen.com/
On increase in real income in Hong Kong & Singapore in the coming year:
“ANY pay increases reaped by local professionals next year could largely be eroded by inflation – an outcome that would put Singapore bottom in the region for real wage rises.
Local companies plan to give their employees a 4.5 per cent salary rise next year, according to a study by global human resources consultancy ECA International, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects inflation here to be 4.3 per cent.
This means real incomes – a measurement of purchasing power taken by adjusting wages for inflation – will rise a paltry 0.2 per cent…
In terms of expected real wage rises next year, Singapore places bottom on a list of 14 regional economies that include Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Hong Kong’s wage rise is expected to be 4.5 per cent next year. With inflation at 3 per cent, real wages will rise 1.5 per cent.”
[…] stall its progress and turn it into a economic backwater lagging behind other mainland cities and long-time rival Singapore, suddenly find that a “strong” government is not such a bad idea after […]
Sir, did you compare Housing? I believe the moment you put in this item, Singapore is way ahead.
What about CPF? HK just implemented their version of CPF called MPF only in 2000.
Does HK govt give handouts? Yes it does. But they do it differently. Every PR in HK got HK$6000. Why did they do this? Shouldn’t the rich get nothing and the poor get more? System. System. System. Something HK lacks.
In Singapore, if you spot a genuine beggar, I reckon you should head straight to the ToTo booth.
HK – chances of spotting a genuine beggar on the street is like seeing your boss every morning.
Overall, if you ask a 1000 people who know both SG and HK very well, which is a better place to live in, I am quite sure the number choosing SG will be higher.
Your comments only show how little you know of Hong Kong. There are many Hong Kongers reading this post and I will leave them to respond to you.
Why you seldom see beggars or the homeless on the streets of Singapore: http://gintai.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/they-solved-the-homeless-sleeping-in-public-places/
Comparison of Singapore’s CPF to Hong Kong’s MPF & others: http://furrybrowndog.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/a-comparative-analysis-of-real-cpf-returns-and-other-provident-funds/
My post on public housing in the two cities: https://singaporearmchaircritic.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/hong-kong-vs-singapore-public-housing/
Hi all, this is from a local post-80’s Hongkonger – this post is really meaningful and resourceful. I cannot agree with all the figures (you know ALL stats have certain degree of bias and power limitations) but it does shed lights to me. I have been seriously thinking of moving to SG.
As a HKer of coz I would love to see HK is better off… I have to say some HKers at this moment enjoys higher purchasing power than SG, possibly due to lower taxes rate and a lower mandatory portion of salary eaten up by MPF/CPF (?). But this is probably mainly due to the more drastic rich-poor gap here, i.e. the high purchasing power is enjoyed by a handful of prestige class only.
If possible, I wish our author can find out the gini coefficient of SG after consideration of taxes and social benefits. You have mentioned that HK’s gini coefficient is significantly lower after taking these into accounts (0.537 vs 0.475) but you didn’t mention about the equivalent of SG.
I am also surprised to read that HK’s property price per unit area is cheaper than SG. Some months ago I was checking the realty of SG and I found that the per transaction prices of both cities are indeed similar – but with HK a 2-3 times smaller in area (hence HK should have a higher per unit area price). This is a very crucial factor to the price level and cost of living for any places and as a HK local I have to say this is undermining HKer’s happiness deeply.
I am indeed happy to see this article so I hope my questions are contributive 🙂
Thank you for your message and questions. Singapore has hardly any social welfare so to speak but according to our official statistics (http://www.singstat.gov.sg/pubn/papers/people/pp-s18.pdf), Singapore’s gini coefficient is also reduced, albeit slightly, from 0.473 to 0.452 after transfers and taxes.
For more information on property prices in the two cities, you may refer to my other blogpost here: https://singaporearmchaircritic.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/hong-kong-vs-singapore-public-housing/
I believe that the purchasing power (DPP) figures take a host of factors into account – including disposable income and prices of goods and services.
Great to see your prompt reply~! Anyway your articles and info are thoughtful and inductive. I will drop by and follow from time to time!
Actually I am physically in SG right now for a short business trip… have been trying my best to observe and perceive the things here.
Have a pleasant stay in Singapore! And feel free to drop me a message if you have any questions. Cheers!
How can we be better of than freer HK * Sino communism?
HKies live under constant fear of communist rule while we lived under dictated ship!
To be truly free – dictators must become extinct. An impossibility for all.
If Singapore is a garden, then Hong Kong is a forest.
Singapore is manicured, engineered, synthetic, tolerates no deviations from the gardener’s idea and chops down whatever’s inconvenient and doesn’t fit the plan. Its nice to walk through, you can actually love it if you’re a visitor, but you wouldn’t want to be one of the plants inside that are trimmed and live at scissors’ mercy for visitors’ enjoyment.
Hong Kong has its ugliness, its share of dangers, its beauty, but first and foremost its NATURAL and ORGANIC, something Singapore will never ever have. It doesn’t pretend to be something its not and unlike in Singapore which goes great lengths to sugar coat its disgusting sides, you basically get what you see.
If you’re a shallow expat who likes things cheaper, have no respect for human freedom and want to have tacky greenery everywhere you go, Singapore is the place for you. Alternatively, if you’re a paranoid religious militarist who believes social engineering is the way to go you’ll also fit right in with the social values here.
If you want to live your own life, have your civil liberties, secular culture, mountains to hike, to fend for yourself and be in an unregulated, spontaneous environment with its own identity, HK wins hands down.
I’f you ask me, even if HK is moving backwards, its still lightyears ahead of Singapore in pretty much every area. If I wasn’t stuck in Singapore due to personal obligations and the dumb military service I’d be in HK a long time ago.
I’d rather breathe pollutants than be indoctrinated into blind obedience and slavery since school age and be legally bounded to actually conform to it.
Does anyone even mention the fact that Singapore and Hong Kong are also different in the send that one has a something to fall back on while the other hasn’t?
Singapore is a sovereign state and as a nation, they have to handle so much more on the areas of foreign relations and National Security. HK on the other hand, takes China’s lead, and has no such fears. If SG had such a backer, they could have devoted so much more of our resources to develop other aspects of the economy/standard of living (1 in 4 dollars spent by the government goes to the military).
It is simply not realistic and commonsensical to compare these 2 “countries” on so many levels. So much of the empirical data collected is actually qualitative and not quantitative, and how on earth does one compare qualitative data and judge if everyone has differing views?
Im not Singaporean or hong kongers but I much prefer the Singaporean system. It is a system that have the perfect balance between democracy and communism, or should I said perfect socialism. Even European countries( mostly eastern) are trying to emulate Singapore system these days because it is obviously the most stable chice of system, especially if you are a developing country.
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