The government’s immigration amendments are officially designed to stop asylum-seekers getting on planes at their embarkation port. But the wording (or lack of it) could also enable the authorities to bar specific residents from leaving Hong Kong. A quick Google search shows Reuters, Bloomberg, FT, SBS, Al Jaz, Japan Times, Taipei Times, UPI and more all reporting about possible ‘exit bans’. No doubt we can believe official assurances that there is nothing to worry about – assuming the CCP can be trusted not to use a new ‘rule by law’ power to intimidate, torment or trap critics and dissidents.
Finding it very hard to get enthused about a ‘travel bubble’ between Hong Kong and Singapore. I was last in Singapore in (flicks through mental passport)… 1996. Main memory: SU-27 thrust vectoring at air show. Since then, I’ve been to the US and UK probably a dozen times; the Mainland at least as often; Taiwan maybe eight to 10 times; Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia multiple times; Thailand, Philippines, France, blah blah blah, even Cambodia, at least once. But not Singapore. Nothing personal, just no compelling reason to go there.
Even a bubble with Macau is apparently too difficult to arrange.
How about fixing the whole mess? As David Webb says, the Singapore ‘bubble’ is not a real free-travel zone. He also points out that Hong Kong’s three-week hotel-quarantine requirement actually increases the spread of Covid-19. (Has anyone told the government this? I mean anyone they haven’t put in jail yet?)
Even going out in Hong Kong seems more trouble than it’s worth. The new ‘domestic bubbles’ regime creates four four categories of restaurant – bewildering permutations of customers per table/operating hours/tables occupied, depending on whether staff and customers are vaccinated/whether location uses the widely-shunned official tracking app/whether the TV is tuned to the All Carrie Lam, All Day Show with special guest star Bunny Chan. (Table here.)
If I’m reading it right, the unvaccinated have to go to bed early, while the vaccinated are allowed to stay up late as a special treat.
It’s hard to tell whether the government is coming up with ineffective solutions on purpose or just through ineptitude. I would guess officials are partly torn by the CCP’s demand to find excuses to ban protests, but otherwise it’s mainly just bureaucratic idiocy. Hong Kong civil servants have a long history of focussing on elaborately detailed process rather than plain outcomes. It helps pass the time before collecting the huge pension.