What Hong Kong can learn from Singapore about self-reliance

April 08, 2016 18:37
While Singapore is cruising toward self-reliance, Hong Kong is being made ever more dependent on the mainland for its basic needs by politicians and business tycoons. Photo: travelwithkat.com, www.pub.gov.sg

The past two years have been a time of introspection for Hong Kong. 

Growing dissatisfaction has turned to cries of independence.

Many disagree with more autonomy for Hong Kong and while opinion polls are not always accurate, they show that the majority is against independence.

On the other hand, self-determination is not a popular idea in Taiwan. Opinion polls show that if the Taiwanese were not threatened by Beijing, two-thirds would support nationhood.

However, only one-third of the population is willing to stand up to an invasion. Another third is worried about the mainland using mass violence to keep the Taiwanese under control.

In Hong Kong, Beijing is careful not to create such an impression with pro-independence voices on the rise.

That said, there are useful lessons from Singapore which separated from the Malaysian Federation in 1963.

For instance, Hong Kong will benefit from being able to generate more of its own water.

Singapore's water resources enjoy legislative protection.

The country aims to be completely self-reliant for water in 2061 when its long-term supply agreement with Malaysia expires.

In most cases, Hong Kong water will be cheaper than imported water from Guangdong.

Desalination at HK$12 per cubic meter is cheap compared with the HK$59 per cubic meter for water from Guangdong, especially when 35 percent of it is not even used.

Singapore's food security is equally impressive.

Since independence, Singapore has managed to become the second most food secure country in the world, according to a recent study by The Diplomat.

Of 109 countries surveyed, Singapore ranked No. 1 in affordability, No. 11 in availability and No. 13 in quality and safety.

Singapore achieved this feat through the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

Its No.2 ranking in food security comes despite heavy imports, mainly from the US.

In contrast, Hong Kong is not rated in the study and Taiwan is not even mentioned. Mainland China comes in at No. 42.

In terms of energy independence, Singapore companies are pushing for solar power.

Nuclear energy is also being considered despite its bad reputation.

Hong Kong buys nuclear power from Guangdong, paying HK$1.50 per kwh compared with about HK$1 for Shenzhen.

While Singapore is cruising toward self-reliance, Hong Kong is being made ever more dependent on the mainland by politicians and business tycoons.

Hong Kong people can rely only on themselves to safeguard their own interests.

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A Hong Kong-based writer from Norway