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Opinion | Talent-hungry Hong Kong can dispense with aggressive sales methods and learn from Singapore

Opinion | Talent-hungry Hong Kong can dispense with aggressive sales methods and learn from Singapore
Opinion | Talent-hungry Hong Kong can dispense with aggressive sales methods and learn from Singapore

First of all, the demands of the Hong Kong Top Talent Pass Program do not seem as holistic as Singapore’s Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) Pass. Those earning the required HK$2.5 million (US$319,953) per year to qualify for Hong Kong’s program could realistically live a far more comfortable life in most major cities in Asia and Europe than in Hong Kong – the world’s most expensive city for expatriates – unless their income was significantly higher.

Hong Kong’s program also admits graduates, but only from the world’s top 100 universities. Singapore’s One Pass, on the other hand, does not require a university degree and offers a case-by-case approach for applicants who do not meet the income requirement of S$30,000 a month, or about HK$2 million a year. As a young college dropout, Bill Gates would not have qualified for Hong Kong’s talent program today – he would have had many other options by then.

Pedestrians in Central, Hong Kong, on February 20. The government launched the Top Talent Pass Scheme in December 2022 to attract more skilled workers to the city. Photo: May Tse

While income and academic success used as metrics in Hong Kong help to assess ability and success, they are hardly suitable for identifying the most motivated and talented individuals in the world.

In terms of settlement, a Singapore passport stronger and easier to obtain than a Hong Kong passport. China’s complicated citizenship law can make obtaining a Hong Kong passport difficult challenging even for people who were born in the city, such as ethnic minority communities.
I just celebrated the 27th Anniversary Given its return to Chinese rule, Hong Kong may be able to address the legal ambiguities and hurdles that make it difficult for residents of non-Chinese descent to become full Chinese citizens. While the government recently Five-year permit Non-Chinese permanent residents of Hong Kong do not enjoy the same benefits when entering and exiting the mainland as those with a return permit.

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Indians born and raised in Hong Kong explain why the city will always be their home

Indians born and raised in Hong Kong explain why the city will always be their home

There is no doubt that Hong Kong is king when it comes to attracting talent from the mainland. But if the country is serious about attracting Southeast Asians to diversify its talent pool, as Manpower Minister Chris Sun Yuk-han saysit should deepen its ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASN) by supporting more exchange programs between young Hong Kongers and their peers in the region. Simply relying on press campaigns to explain its visa programs is not enough.

Singapore has invested significantly in youth leadership programmes with other ASEAN member countries. As a graduate of the Singapore-funded ASEAN Youth Fellowship and the Southeast Asia Next-Gen Leaders Programme of the Temasek Foundation-Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, I have experienced first-hand how such initiatives can foster collaboration and understanding among the region’s future leaders, which in turn can lead to business opportunities.

In addition, the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore works with prominent Malaysian intellectuals through its Malaysia Studies Programme, promoting a comprehensive understanding of Malaysia and helping Singapore attract talent from its neighbouring country.

Hong Kong may need to take a similar approach towards ASEAN members by increasing academic collaboration with Southeast Asian think tanks. Strengthening the Southeast Asia Research Centre at the City University of Hong Kong would be helpful. Insights from organisations such as the Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur-based Global Institute for Tomorrow (GIFT) could also help Hong Kong deepen its understanding of the ASEAN region.

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Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee promises closer ties with ASEAN as a gateway to mainland China

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee promises closer ties with ASEAN as a gateway to mainland China

Given that even Taiwan has started to conduct youth exchange programs in which Southeast Asians also participate, New Southward PolicyHong Kong has no time to lose. In terms of global impact, it would be even more effective if Hong Kong could, for example, occupy a World Economic Forum centre in the city or host WEF events.
Hong Kong must think outside the box if it is to achieve the ultimate Start-up capital for its region, similar to London and Singapore. The tech companies that left Hong Kong for Singapore won’t be returning anytime soon if Hong Kong continues to focus on complementing Shenzhen’s innovative start-up scene without supporting its own.
To this end, Hong Kong could introduce a Visa for “digital nomads”what Thailand did and Taiwan rememberto attract global talent that can revitalize local economies, foster innovation and create business opportunities.
Hong Kong’s advantage as Super connector between the mainland and the world will become less important if China introduces more direct and comprehensive opening measures. This is already happening – CEO Elon Musk did not have to travel via Hong Kong to get Tesla’s Gigafactory on the mainland; he negotiated directly with the Shanghai government. Many more such examples will follow.

Alarm bells should be ringing in Hong Kong. The city needs a strong and coherent strategy to achieve a more diverse workforce and market opportunities that can ensure its continued prosperity.

Chee Yik-wai is a Malaysia-based intercultural specialist and co-founder of the social enterprise Crowdsukan

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