Singapore is keeping a wary eye on the unrest in Hong Kong


Los Angeles Times | August 14, 2019

The Los Angeles Times article, "Singapore is keeping a wary eye on the unrest in Hong Kong," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Nick Chia on his thoughts about Hong Kong businesses relocating to Singapore. The article is excerpted below.

SINGAPORE — Protesters in Hong Kong have shown that demonstrations about government policies can erupt anywhere, from outlying suburbs and shopping malls to government offices and one of the busiest airport terminals in the world.


Singapore’s stability has fueled speculation it would be the first to benefit if problems persist in Hong Kong, a city with which it shares both a rivalry and kinship as a former British colony and bustling financial center with attractively low taxes. Multinational companies, expatriate workers and wealthy individuals looking to stash their assets somewhere safer than Hong Kong would flee for Asia’s next best thing, the thinking goes among some observers.

But the government in Singapore, which became a sovereign nation in 1965, has shown no desire to play along. Rather than exploit the opportunity, the country’s monetary authority has urged bankers not to woo wealthy clients away from competitors in semiautonomous Hong Kong. At the same time, top officialshave rejected the notion there’s anything to gain from the turbulence 1,600 miles away.


The cautious approach reflects Singapore’s delicate position on the world stage. The country is walking a tightrope maintaining favorable relations with the United States and China, two powers that in some respects appear to be embarking on a new Cold War.


Head hunters, public relations firms and property brokers say there are no signs of an exodus from Hong Kong, though it could take months for firms to plan a relocation.


“It’s a bit early” to relocate, said Nick Chia, managing director at the executive recruiting firm Russell Reynolds Associates in Singapore. “Having said that, I don’t think businesses like instability.”

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