50% more Hongkongers seriously thinking about emigrating

September 30, 2019 12:12
A growing number of Hongkongers are thinking of moving to another place amid all the chaos and uncertainty in the city. Photo: Reuters

It must be one of the hottest “investment themes” in Hong Kong. 

I'm talking, of course, about investing overseas or, more precisely, thinking of moving to another place because one is having second thoughts about staying here amid all the chaos and uncertainty.

I'm almost sure everyone had given it some thought this summer – what with all the advertisements trumpeting about the virtues of living abroad.

After all, some have accumulated enough fortune to start a new life elsewhere in a place where there is more space, both physical and psychological.

Amid the turmoil, a growing number of locals are looking for ways to get out of Hong Kong – for study or work, or for good.

One sign that many locals are thinking about leaving is the number of applications for a certificate of no criminal conviction.

The certificate, also known as good citizenship card, is a prerequisite for Hong Kong residents applying for a foreign visa or residency in another country.

According to data from the police department, the number of applications for the certificate reached 12,334 from June to September. That's up 48.7 percent from the number of applications in the same period last year, according to a local paper.

The increment of 4,000, or about 1,000 a month, is quite significant. That's more than double the number of arrests – over 1,700 – made by police during the civil strife in those four months.

The number of applications increased 54 percent in August from a year ago, compared to a 12 percent growth in June. That somehow corresponds with the increases in the number of times tear gas was fired and the number of injuries.

Meanwhile, the number of investment seminars for overseas properties, most notably in Malaysia, is also growing. And many Hongkongers are interested. This is understandable: many Malaysians also speak Cantonese.

Malaysia’s My Second Home (MM2H) program, which offers a 10-year residency to a family who buys a property worth at least 1 million ringgit (HK$1.87 million), is particularly popular among those who are looking forward to their retirement.

The number of Hong Kong immigrants to Malaysia reached about 1,000 over the last 10 years. By comparison, over 300 Hong Kong residents have already applied for the MM2H program.

More Hongkongers are opting to live in Taiwan, where the minimum investment amount for immigration is NT$6 million (HK$1.51 million) with a requirement of 12 months of continuous stay.

There is talk that Taiwan might raise the required investment amount in view of the growing number of applications from the city, but that is only likely to see more Hongkongers rushing to the queue because many just love the island's great food and friendly people.

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EJ Insight writer