Singapore and Hong Kong, both former British colonies and with ethnic Chinese majority population, have been at loggerheads for long. They are wont to nag each other at every opportunity even over rankings in such things as happiness index or housing. So when a former Singapore minister has been appointed as Hong Kong’s adviser in economic development, the skies did not fall. Singapore, on its part, dismissed the appointment as `no conflict of interest.’
In fact, the appointment of George Yeo, former foreign minister of Singapore, should have been seen as a conflict of interest of sorts for both the former colonies. He has been given the position of non-official member of Hong Kong’s Economic Development Commission by none other than Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying last month. The city state merely said the minister’s shift was no violation of the Official Secrets Act.
First, the shifting of the former minister to Hong Kong itself is some kind of transfer of brain’s trust, considering the city state is always better than the island state in many economic respects. Second, there would now be no ammunition to rile at each other. Third, the reconciliation is amusing: “It is not unusual for government to appoint foreigners as advisors to tap on their professional expertise and experience. Mr Yeo constantly upheld our and will continue to uphold our national interests,” explained the present Singapore foreign minister Masagos Zulfiki.