In an opinion piece for the South China Morning Post, senior writer Peter Kammerer tells readers to stop comparing Hong Kong and Singapore, since the two countries have such considerable differences that any comparisons are basically pointless.
Mr. Kammerer makes several points in his opinion piece. He begins by saying that there is a one-sided rivalry between Hong Kong and Singapore, with Singaporeans perceiving that their city is superior, and Hongkongers being jealous of Singapore. He then states his obvious preference for Hong Kong, despite admitting that the last time he was in Singapore was in 1987. He writes, “Whatever the case, there’s no reason whatsoever for having an inferiority complex. Hands down, Hong Kong is the place to be.”
Mr. Kammerer had gone to Singapore for an interview for a job that he later turned down, for reasons then that he wasn’t sure of, just that “something didn’t feel quite right.” The following year, after having accepted another job in Hong Kong, he had an epiphany about that “something.” For him, Singapore is “overplanned,” as opposed to the disorderly chaos and mess that greeted him in the streets outside his Causeway Bay hotel.
As it turns out, Mr. Kammerer loved the chaos of Hong Kong.
In the years that followed, he has only fallen deeper in love with Hong Kong’s patchwork messiness, writing, “There’s a certain charm in the procrastination, a sense that even though with our trillions in reserves, we can have whatever we want, but delivering it is such an effort that we’d rather not. Shining through is creativity, shown through artistic endeavour and innovative ways to get around problems.” For him, Hong Kong’s creativity and innovation are the very things that make it special.
Mr. Kammerer further makes the point that Hongkongers should not look to Singapore for answers for its problems, despite Beijing holding up Singapore as “the Chinese government’s model, both for its benign dictatorship and the way it’s run.” For the writer, Hongkongers are just as able to come up with original solutions, and do not need to copy examples from Singapore, despite headlines that often read how government officials point out how Hong Kong should learn from Singapore concerning various issues.
Finally, the author points out that Singapore does not have added pressure from Beijing over the “one country, two systems” model. They have therefore more freedom for the government to enact policy that will further their interests, but as, Mr. Kammerer says, “That doesn’t mean Hong Kong is better or worse – its circumstances are so different that comparison is wrong.”
As expected, there were commenters who both agreed and disagreed with the writer.
You must first start with a comparison of the people of HK v. SIN. Lee Kuan Yew always bemoaned the lack of talent in the Lion City. The best and brightest tend to join the government, where your future is relatively secure. Moreover, SIN has restrictions against migration and want to keep top jobs for their citizens only. In HK, you don’t have any shortage of talent, and frankly the continual influx of mainlanders probably refreshes the talent pool continually.
But give me HK any day. I like the people a lot more because they’re just a whole lot more interesting, intelligent and fun.”
Ellen McNally sums up the entire piece of what Mr. Kammerer had written, “This article is based on a visit you made in 1987? Goodbye journalism, eh?”