domingo, 15 de novembro de 2009

Tirem-me de Hong Kong!

I'm a Hongkonger - get me out of here

Daniel Sin
South China Morning Post
November 15, 2009

Hong Kong, Iraq and Sri Lanka wouldn't appear to have much in common. Ethnic conflict, suicide bombings and rampant corruption are not the city's hallmarks.

But if an international poll is to be believed, the citizens of all three share the same desire to get the hell out and find somewhere more liveable. And the survey is comprehensive: US consultancy Gallup surveyed 260,000 adults in 135 countries.

Gallop compiled the results to produce a "potential net migration index", which shows the difference between the number of people who would like to leave a country - or, in the case of Hong Kong and some others, a city - and the number who would love to move there. A country's score is recorded as a percentage of its total adult population.

With a score of minus 15 per cent, Hong Kong ranks 65th, on a par with Mexico, Iraq and Sri Lanka. Since people can hardly be queuing to migrate to any of those countries for a new life, they owe their scores to the number of citizens rushing for the exits. And so it is with Hong Kong, if Gallup is right: a million more people, a seventh of the population, want to leave the city than move to it.

Perhaps more galling to Hong Kong boosters, Singapore topped the charts with a score of plus 260 per cent.

The second most attractive country was Saudi Arabia (perhaps explained by the fact polling in the Gulf states was confined to resident and expatriate Arabs), followed, less surprisingly, by New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Mainland China came in 41st, on minus five per cent.

Immigration consultant Benny Cheung Kai-hei said his firm handled more applications from Hongkongers wanting to migrate than from people wanting to come to the city.

He said many Hongkongers were on the lookout for a better environment for their children, as they found the city's welfare and education systems unfavourable. "It is also overpopulated, with heavy traffic congestion and serious air pollution," said Cheung, director of Goldmax International.

Immigration consultant Richard Aziz Butt said the government was not doing enough to attract expatriates to settle in Hong Kong.

Butt said the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, which requires an entrant to invest HK$6.5 million in property or stocks, was not applicable to potential migrants who just wanted to come to set up a small business.

Many clients told him that people in Hong Kong "made too many complaints", he said. "They protest over very small matters - even lawmakers are quarrelling with each other - and racial discrimination is widespread."

Butt said many members of ethnic minorities were leaving the city; he says he has helped about 300 families move elsewhere in the past couple of years.

Eddie Kwan King-hung, of EK Immigration Consultant Ltd, is a bit more sceptical.

"The survey might have overlooked the fact there is a quota of 150 mainland Chinese who are allowed to move to Hong Kong [each day]," Kwan said.

He said the city was a popular destination for many mainland Chinese, who applied to become Hong Kong residents through the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme and the capital investment entrant scheme.

"Compare this to the number of Hong Kong people migrating overseas, which has dropped to less than 11,000 a year from the peak of 90,000 in the 1990s," Kwan said.

In Causeway Bay yesterday, born-and-bred Hongkonger Mr Pang said he had absolutely no intention of leaving the city because his lifestyle was better in Hong Kong, with its reasonable prices.

Besides, he said, he didn't have the money to move elsewhere, given that many countries required considerable wealth to achieve the same lifestyle as he enjoys now.

Robert Raufer, a visitor from the US, said if he were to move to Hong Kong, he would consider factors such as air quality, lifestyle and health issues.

"Hong Kong should do more about air pollution," he said.

Nota: no estudo da Gallup, Portugal ficou no 23.º lugar do índice de "aprazibilidade", a par da Malásia, Holanda e Itália. Nada mau...

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