23 July 2019
Tourists pose for photographs in front of the Merlion statue at the Marina Bay waterfront in Singapore.  Photo: Bloomberg
Tourists pose for photographs in front of the Merlion statue at the Marina Bay waterfront in Singapore. Photo: Bloomberg

Singapore tops quality of life survey in Asia, HK static

Singapore retained its position as the city offering the best quality of life in Asia, ranking 25th in the world, while Hong Kong was static at No. 71, according to an annual survey by human resources consulting firm Mercer.

Worldwide, Austria’s capital Vienna tops the ranking for the ninth year running, while Iraq’s capital Baghdad remains at the bottom.

“The results of Mercer’s 2018 Quality of Living index indicate that, despite ongoing investment in infrastructure and innovation, the impact on living standards in Hong Kong is not leaping ahead,” Peter KH Chan, Mercer’s talent consultant in Hong Kong, said in a press release issued by the firm.

“Mercer’s first-ever sanitation index also exposes a real need for Hong Kong to make critical improvements in this area, with Singapore at 57 and Hong Kong and Shenzhen trailing at 134 and 140 respectively,” Chan added.

Shenzhen showed the biggest improvement in the region, its ranking rising to 130th place, from 136 last year, largely as a result of increased ratings for consumer goods availability and better monitoring on air pollution, Mercer said.

Seoul fell three places from 176 to 179, with Mercer citing political instability, while Tokyo fell from 47 to 50.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore is followed by Kuala Lumpur (85).  Other key cities include Bangkok (132), Manila (137) and Jakarta (142).

Five Japanese cities top the ranking for East Asia: Tokyo (50), Kobe (50), Yokohama (55), Osaka (59), and Nagoya (64).

Taipei ranks No. 84, followed by Shanghai (103) and Beijing (119).

Mercer’s survey of 231 cities helps companies and organizations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. Its criteria include political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport, Reuters said.

In the global rankings, Vienna is followed by Switzerland’s Zurich at second place while New Zealand’s Auckland and Germany’s Munich share third place. In 5th place Vancouver completes the top five and is the highest ranking city in North America.

Europe has eight of the world’s top 10 most pleasant cities: Germany and Switzerland each have three cities in the top 10, while New Zealand, Canada and Australia each have one.

With a population of 1.8 million, Vienna topped the survey for the ninth year in a row, boasting a vibrant cultural scene, comprehensive health care and moderate housing costs.

A year before Britain is expected to leave the European Union, its highest-ranked city, London, fell one rank to 41 in the survey.

“Cities in the UK continue to rank highly for quality of living, and remain attractive destinations for multinationals and their employees,” said Kate Fitzpatrick, Mercer’s global mobility practice leader for Britain and Ireland.

Baghdad has been at the bottom of the list for a decade now. Waves of sectarian violence have swept through the city since the American-led invasion in 2003.

Yemen’s capital Sanaa, devastated by conflict, ranked two places above Baghdad, and Syria’s Damascus, seven years into a civil war, ranked six places above Iraq’s capital.

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