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October 22nd, 2013
HKTV Denied Free-TV License

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HKTV Denied Free-TV License

October 22nd, 2013

It is worrying that the government under CY Leung has denied the Free-TV license. This is no doubt the work of Communist Party who wish to control the media in Hong Kong; it is a violation of Hong Kong’s press freedom. Next, we will be seeing tanks in Victoria Park when we have a solitary vigil for the next June 4 commeration.

There is  no doubt that CY Leung is a communist party member. His open denial of the facts is a blatant lie.

National Education | Hong Kong is not ready

September 3rd, 2012

CY Leung must have witnessed the immensely-difficult line that his predecessors had to tread trying to keep both (i) the people of Hong Kong and (ii) Beijing happy. Unfortunately, these parties are so diametrically-opposite in virtually every way that any policy that favours one will invariably displease the other. National Education is but one of these policies. It will be important for the administration to assess properly the political calculus of trying to bulldoze through National Education and conduct necessary cost/benefit analysis.

If I had to identify the single cause of the current fiasco it would be China’s reputation management problem. Each time a bridge collapses, each time we are told that a blind activist committed suicide, each time a princeling crashes a Ferrari, each time milk is tainted, each time journalists are roughed up; China’s reputation is damaged. The less reputation China has the harder it will be to get policies like National Education through.

It would be churlish for the administration to try to bulldoze through National Education because of the political repercussions that will ensue. Instead the administration should go back to Beijing and say “We are trying our best to get National Education through but it is met with great resistance due entirely to your terrible brand/reputation management. You have made this an impossible task for us. This is how you can help - if you can dramatically improve your reputation over the next 3 years we will be able to get National Education through no problems. Can you help?”. Politics is ultimately a trade - let us not be cornered into an unfavourable deal.

Third Runway Yes, Its Price Tag No

June 8th, 2011

Hong Kong needs a third runway and everyone can agree that it can help the economy.  The price tag of HK$ 130+ billion for building it is just insane.  Frankfurt airport managed to build a runway recently and it cost them HK$ 10 billion all in - why should it take us 13x that amount. Frankfurt has a minimum wage level that is higher than Hong Kong.

I think the government should offer a break down for that HK$ 136 billion before we should even consider this option further.

Hong Kong Electoral System Broken

May 17th, 2010

Yesterday, I tried to vote (16 May, 2010) at my local polling station.

I had already completed, signed and faxed back my application to become an eligible voter which I found on Google to be http://www.reo.gov.hk/pdf/reo1_form.pdf around a week ago. A day or so before 16 May, 2010 - I received a letter which mentioned that I had become an eligible voter for a particular disctrict. However when I turned up at the polling station yesterday the local officials told me that I was not eligible and said that because this is a re-election only registered voters from 2009 could vote. I told them this is now 2010 and I am officially an eligible voter.

I tried to vote but couldn’t - I wonder whether there are many others like me.

Lowering compulsory sale threshold from 90% to 80%

April 1st, 2010

Coming into effect today (1st April, 2010) is the new legislation that allows developers to force small owners to sell their flats within a building after it has acquired 80 per cent of the property interests in the building. This affects residential buildings older than 50 years.

Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) mentioned on the radio the day before Legco voted on the notion saying that this new law was in the interest of the Hong Kong public and revitalisation of Hong Kong but in reality the law lowers the leverage and bargaining power of small flat owners agains developers.

A seven-storey tenement block on Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (55 years old) along with three neighbouring blocks, has been an acquisition target. Richfield Realty which is helping Henderson Land to acquire this block stopped negotiating with one of the owners since January because they suspected that the law to lower the threshold would be passed and said the owner that they will talk contact him again in April.  Now the owner is worried that the developer will offer him an even lower offer than the one he had rejected before.

The original offer made by Richfield was ~HK$ 4 million or HK$ 5,700 /sq.ft. for the owner’s 700 sq. ft. flat which measures 1,200 sq. ft. if his share of common areas is included. A new flat developed in same spot would sell for ~3 times that; so effectively once the owner is compelled to sell he would need to move elsewhere.

A similar incident happened to an owner (Victor Sin Ho-yuen) who had a shop on Haven Street (希雲街) , in causeway bay who had to sell his shop on ground floor for ~HK$ 2 million. The court case cost him HK$ 4 million in legal fees. He laments that he would probably lose his second shop too in a similar way. Sin said that the supplementary measures and the mediation system were useless, because the developed showed no intention to mediate last time.

It is appalling that this is happening in Hong Kong. Individual rights are being eroded and it is sad to see Hong Kong heading down this route.

39 Conduit Road - Transparent or Not?

March 29th, 2010

Henderson Land announced in October 2009 that 24 flats at their newly developed residential site on 39 Conduit Road had just been sold and one of them for a record of over HK$ 70,000/sq. ft..

Until today 29 March, 2010 - only 1 of the 24 transactions have completed, the remainder are yet to be completed. The Development Bureau’s 25 March press release is as follows:-

With regard to the transactions of 24 units of “39 Conduit Road”, a
Government spokesman said today (March 25) that the Lands Department had
received the reply to its inquiries from companies of the Henderson Land
Development Co Ltd (the Companies) yesterday (March 24). “The Companies
replied that they had entered into a verbal agreement with the 24
purchasers to extend the completion of the sale and purchase for a period
of between two to four months, therefore no assignment had been executed or
delivered to the Land Registry for registration. Also, the Companies said
that the completion of the sales might be further extended,” the spokesman
said. “Given that the Companies had entered into new agreements with
the purchasers verbally and could not be definite about whether the
transactions could eventually be completed, the Lands Department issued
another letter to the Companies today (March 25) requesting further
information. “We will continue to closely monitor whether the
transactions will eventually be completed and whether there is any
anomaly.”

In normal sales and purchase of properties, the buyer and seller enter into agreement in writing and the buyer usually pays a deposit to guarantee the purchase and if the buyer fails to complete then he/she will forfeit the deposit paid and if the seller fails to complete then the seller has to return the deposit to the buyer and pay a compensation fee equivalent to the deposit. It is peculiar that no deposits have been forfeited for these transactions and furthermore the standard completion period is 2 months and it seems peculiar that Henderson should only negotiate the extension for completion when pressured by the government to provide answers 5 months after the buyers and Henderson Land entered into contract.

Moreover, it seems peculiar that all 24 buyers bought using British Virgin Island companies or other vehicles whose buyers cannot be looked up, so the identity of the buyers are to-date unknown.

Lastly, according to information from the Companies Registry, different shell companies were used to buy the 24 units. All of them used the same law firm, Lo & Lo Solicitors, also registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Urban Renewal Authority (URA) needs more transparency and regulation

March 15th, 2010

The URA receives HK$ 10 Billion each year from the Hong Kong government; it promulgates transparency and is registered as a non-profit organisation. However, the URA refuses to release a breakdown of its revenues and balance sheets. On its website (www.ura.org.hk), you cannot find information about its shareholders and their respective shareholdings nor can you find detailed financial information about joint projects.

The URA works on joint projects with developers in Hong Kong and the latest one that sickens even the most devout of free market believers is the Tsim Sha Tsui project called the “Masterpiece” jointly developed by New World and the URA; New World has sold 39 units to business associates at the beginning of the private sales followed by sales of units to top management and their relatives to generate an artificial image of high demand and also to give buyers an opportunity to evade the payment of stamp duty.  This controversial sales tactic was adopted at the “Merton” in Kennedy Town - the last joint project between New World and the URA 5 years ago which generated an outcry from the public and others in the industry and yet 5 years later the same unscrupulous tactic has been allowed to recur.

Lawmakers need to step up the regulation of the URA and enact new rules to make the URA more accountable to the public, reduce its collusion with private developer through legal means and ensure that the URA’s powers are checked.

Cross-border express link (Hong Kong <=> Guangzhou)

November 2nd, 2009

It is now costing a whopping HK$ 65.2 billion to build the cross-border express link from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. This house is of the opinion that the concept of a high-speed express link between Hong Kong and Guangzhou is exceptional and very much a move in the right direction. However, this house wishes to throw a spanner in the works and ask the obvious question : Where will the proposed station open in Guangzhou?

To those who have been following the case, the proposed station will open in a place called Shibi (石壁); for those who have heard of this place and have even tried going there, will know that it is a long and arduous journey from the city centre of Guangzhou. It is a 30- minute bus ride from Shibi to Dashi (大石) which is the closest tube stop and from Dashi to city centre of Guangzhou it is another 30 minutes by tube. I personally made this trip and timed it - it took 65 minutes from the Matyr’s Park Station (烈士陵园站) to get to Shibi and is associated with the inconvenience of going up and down escalators, waiting on the platform and waiting for the bus.

The express link will be a 48-minute journey from West Kowloon to Shibi and then another 65 minutes to Guangzhou’s city centre - the total time is just under 2 hours which incidentally is the same journey time that is currently achieved by the Hung Hom Station to Guangzhou’s East Station which offers the added convenience to the traveller of a direct train ride into city centre with no transfers.

This house believes that the station where the train will arrive at in Guangzhou should moved to the city centre or at least somewhere very close to the city centre otherwise its value add will be marginal and the project should be scrapped.

Drug Test will not Solve Problems

August 21st, 2009

Carrying out drug tests on pupils is a reactionary and token gesture whose main purpose seems to be to show the public that the government is doing something about current drug issues rather than to genuinely reduce drug problems at schools.

Our youth take drugs for a number of reasons; some cannot see a future in their lives, some have family issues and their family unit is disrupted and some just don’t experience the love that they should enjoy whilst growing up. The government should try to address these issues rather than take the easy route of conducting drug tests.

Initiatives the government could consider include giving aid to single parents, allocate land and other resources for the development of sports centres for young people, develop environments to give kids a platform to be creative and develop an arts and cultural hub that doesn’t contain yet another monstrous shopping mall designed to line the pockets of property developers with more money.

The youth today are our tomorrow and if the government does not invest in and nurture them then our future is doomed.

Hong Kong government’s SME Loan Guarantee Scheme

July 3rd, 2009

Although the government has the best of intentions; it’s SME Loan Guarantee seems to have more discernible benefits to its participating banks than SMEs.

The government loan guarantees guarantee 80% of the loan; however all banks still require the owners of SME’s to personally guarantee 100% the loans and the government guarantee only applies when the owner is unable to repay the loan and is forced into bankruptcy. The interest charged on the SME loans by the banks are the same as what they were charging without the SME Loan guarantee. So in effect the SME owner; with or without the government loan guarantee is receiving exactly the same deal with the banks except they have to fill in more forms.

The banks on the other hand benefit in everyway; guaranteed return, guaranteed profitability, guaranteed no loan default and guaranteed retention of the same interest rates and bank charges.

The most obvious argument is that the government has helped give confidence to the banks to lend money to SMEs that they may not have had otherwise. However this is inherently flawed, because the banks’ primary business is lending money and if they chose not to do that they will go under; therefore it is as much in the bank’s interest to lend money as it is in the SME’s interest to borrow money with or without government aid.

If the government genuinely wants to help SME’s; they should lend money directly to the SME’s without the banks’ involvement This would reqiure a separate department be setup for handling these affairs and this department would actually serve a useful purpose.

So instead of the an SME Loan Guarantee Scheme it should be called a Banks’ Profitability Guarantee Scheme.

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