SINGAPORE — Over 15,000 Singaporeans are estimated to be residing in Hong Kong, with about one-fifth e-registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament on Tuesday (6 August).
In response to Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Saktiandi Supaat’s questions about the situation in Hong Kong, Dr Balakrishnan said that the ministry is unaware of any Singaporeans who have been directly affected or injured by the protests in the city.
“The MFA has advised Singaporeans to avoid areas where protests are expected to take place. Singaporeans must be mindful that protests, even if they are meant to be peaceful in nature may sometimes turn violent with little or no notice,” said Dr Balakrishnan.
He stressed that Singaporeans who are residing in or visiting Hong Kong should take the necessary precautions, such as staying vigilant, observing local laws, and monitoring developments through the local media and regular updates from the Singapore Consulate General in the city.
“Singaporeans in Hong Kong who require consular assistance at any time should get in touch with us. We continue to urge all Singaporeans who travel overseas to e-register with us,” said Dr Balakrishnan.
Saktiandi had asked whether the 3,000 Singaporeans registered with the ministry in Hong Kong include those studying there, as he noted that many of the domestic protestors are from the city’s educational institutions.
In response, Dr Balakrishnan said that the MFA does not keep track of the activities of the Singaporeans in Hong Kong.
He added,“The purpose of the e-registration is simply to enable us to able to reach out to them if we need to provide updated information, or for them to seek assistance from the MFA.”
Unprecedented protests in Hong Kong
In the past two months, Hong Kong has seen unprecedented protests, with no signs of abating, sparked by an extradition bill that would have let people be sent from the territory to mainland China for trial. They have escalated into a broader backlash against the city government and its political masters in Beijing.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, who spoke to the local media for the first time in two weeks on Monday, warned that the protests were putting Hong Kong on a path of no return and had hurt its economy.
“These illegal acts that challenge our country’s sovereignty, and jeopardise ‘one country two systems’, will destroy the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong,” Lam added, referring to the system of government in the former British colony following its return to China in 1997.
Hong Kong police said they have arrested 420 protesters since 9 June, on charges including rioting, unlawful assembly, possessing offensive weapons, assaulting officers and obstructing police operations.
Tens of thousands of protestors gathered across the city on Monday, prompting riot police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds.
The demonstrations caused extensive disruptions to trains and traffic. Over 200 flights at the city's airport - one of the world's busiest - were cancelled, leaving hundreds stranded.