Singapore watching Hong Kong turmoil with ‘concern,’ PM Lee says

·2-min read
HONG KONG, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: Pro-democracy lawmakers Helena Wong, Wu Chi-wai, Andrew Wan Siu-kin and Lam Cheuk-ting speaks to members of media after tendering their letters of resignation at the Legislative Council on November 12, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong's government removed four pro-democracy lawmakers from the city's legislative council after China passed a ruling that allowed for the disqualification of lawmakers deemed to be unpatriotic, a move that could result in a mass resignation by the pro-democracy camp. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers Helena Wong, Wu Chi-wai, Andrew Wan Siu-kin and Lam Cheuk-ting speaks to media after tendering their resignations at the Legislative Council, 12 November 2020. (PHOTO: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

By Philip J. Heijmans

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore is concerned about the situation in Hong Kong and hopes the financial hub could “settle down to a new normal,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

“We watch carefully and with some concern what’s happening in Hong Kong,” Lee said in an interview with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait at the New Economy Forum. “That something was going to happen -- was very much on the cards -- and could not have been avoided because the demonstrations and the expressions of defiance could not have carried on indefinitely, certainly not to the end of ‘one country, two systems’ in 2047.”

Lee’s comments came after China’s top legislative body last week passed a resolution allowing for the disqualification of any Hong Kong lawmakers deemed insufficiently loyal. Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s government immediately disqualified four legislators, prompting the remaining 15 opposition members in the 70-seat Legislative Council to resign.

The loyalty resolution was the latest move by China to stifle dissent and debate in the former British colony in the wake of pro-democracy protests that rocked the city last year. That included the enactment of sweeping national security legislation, which raised concerns about the city’s future as a global business hub and prompted the U.S. to sanction top Chinese and Hong Kong officials.

Lee said he hoped China could deal with Hong Kong “in a way which would deal with a problem, but not shake confidence, and maintain the Hong Kong system intact so that it can be valuable to China and can be part of the prosperity in the region.”

The New Economy Forum is organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.