In the midst of the social instability and economic uncertainty, more young Hongkongers, especially those with young families, are trying to leave the territory for a better future, according to an immigration agency which operates in Hong Kong.
Elsie Liow, managing director of AIMS Immigration and Relocation Specialist, told D:Code that in the months since the unrest in the city, applications to relocate have increased by tenfold.
“Usually, we would get around 20 applications a month. However, in the recent months since the protests in Hong Kong started, we have had to process about 200 applications per month,” said Elsie, whose company has been operating an office in Hong Kong since 2016.
AIMS Immigration and Relocation Specialist, which was incorporated in Singapore in 2006, has 14 offices including its Singapore headquarters spread across the Asia-Pacific. These are located in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Yangon, Manila, Jakarta, Kuching, Adelaide and Melbourne.
According to South China Morning Post, a total of 7,600 Honkongers emigrated last year, up from 6,500 in 2017.
“While figures for 2019 are still not available, police figures have indicated that 13,000 applications were made for police clearance in the period of July to October this year, up from 8,000 in the same period last year.”
Elsie has also seen tremendous spike in enquiries. But one thing she has noticed is that the people seeking to leave Hong Kong are much younger.
“We used to have people who were in their 40s or 50s coming to us to enquire about leaving Hong Kong. Nowadays, the applicants are a lot younger.”
According to her, the people who are older are more likely to accept the situation in Hong Kong, whereas the younger Hongkongers, especially those with children, are worried about the social unrest, political instability and the economic uncertainty.
“They don’t see a future there for themselves or their children because of the way things are at present. Most of them are worried about work opportunities. Many are finding it challenging to get a job. Fresh university graduates, for instance, have found themselves having to settle for low-paying jobs which do not require much in the way of skills that their education has brought them. It is as if their university degrees are worth a lot less than they used to,” explains Elsie.
The mood of those seeking to emigrate, according to Elsie, is one of despondency rather than anger or outrage.
“They are disappointed at how the unrest now has made the place so unsettled, and they feel they don’t have much of a future there,” says Elsie.
Most of those seeking to leave Hong Kong would want to go to places such as Singapore, Malaysia or Taiwan, according to Elsie.
“They want to live in communities where Mandarin is spoken, though a handful of them are prepared to settle in Canada, Australia, the US or the UK,” says Elsie.
“For many Hongkongers, their first choice is Singapore,” says Elsie. But we’re not going to see an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong soon, she adds.
“It is not quite so easy to emigrate here as Singapore has one of the most stringent immigration policies in the word,” says Elsie. “It is a lot easier for most of them to settle in Malaysia or Taiwan.”