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Archive for the ‘Politics in Hong Kong’ Category


Hong Kong Urban Renewal Authority (URA) - Prerogative?

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

In reference to the article on SCMP titled "Truth Behind Urban Decay more sinister than URA’s Sob Story" on 21 November, 2008, this house believes that Candy Tam of Wanchai is spot on regarding URA’s modus operandi and prerogative.

Barry Cheung Chun-Yuen, chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) had cited that issues such as air quality, density, green issues and open space are all anathemas to a URA development.

Urban decay is targeted as the main proponent of urban redevelopment and once an area is declared an urban renewal site, the URA then removes the tenants and small businesses. The area designated for redevelopment all have much higher plot ratios and density so that developers can build taller skyscrapers and more shopping malls that may be sold off or rented out for an inordinate amount of money. A trifling consequence to the URA is that the original inhabitants are priced out of the area and community relationships are severed but it seems that is consequence is of little concern to the URA.

Ms Tam’s idea to avoid urban decay is for the URA to offer financial assistance to impoverished residents who cannot afford necessary repairs. Perhaps once an area is designated an urban redevelopment area, the URA should carry out an audit of all the buildings that need reparation and offer assistance or even carry out necessary conservation work on the affected buildings and areas.

Lastly, this house is 100% in agreement with Candy Tam that, to date, we cannot name one single URA redevelopment project that has benefited the original residents of the area by providing them with better living conditions. However every URA redevelopment project has benefited our developers handsomely.

Although, this house thinks that the government is doing a phenomenal job since the handover, there are still areas that can afford improvement.

Owner Ng Yuet-Yee ordered to pay HK$ 386,000 for canopy Collapse

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

On 1 August 1994, there was an building in Aberdeen, Albert House, whose canopy and illegal fish tank collapsed killing one 80-year-old woman and injured 12.

In 1997, an individual called Ng Yuet-Yee bought an apartment in that building.

In November 2008, judge Stephen Chow Siu-Hung ordered that Ms Ng has to pay a share of the compensation even though she bought the apartment three years after the accident.

This house believes that the sentence is completely unfair and absolutely absurd. The fact that she bought the apartment 3 years after the accident means by default that she has absolutely nothing to do with the accident- therefore how on earth should she be liable for the payment of the compensation?

Surely, only the owners of the building whilst the accident occured should be liable for compensation payments?

Hong Kong’s Mandatory Provident Fund

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

The Mandatory Provident Fund was setup by the Hong Kong government as a means to tackle the aging population problem which indicates that in a few decades time the ratio of retirees to workers will be much greater than it is now. Each worker contributes a mandatory 5% of their monthly salary to the fund and their employer contributes the other 5% to total a 10% in monthly contribution. The logic behind the scheme is understandable and is sound in its thinking.

However, this house believes that the government should not have given control of the funds to corporations; because the funds effectively become capital for banking corporations to invest in any way they deem. Even though the funds are held in vehicles called trust funds the investment decisions are ultimately dictated by corporations. This house believes that the government should have taken the responsibility of managing the fund themselves. The national insurance in the UK which is a similar fund which is managed by the British government and the system works.

This house believes that by appropriating workers' hard earnt cash to corporations it further consolidates the corporations' power in policies that govern Hong Kong. The government is therefore becoming more and more reliant of corporations and less and less able to manage affairs by herself.

Hong Kong’s Property Quagmire

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Hong Kong’s single-most-serious problem is its inordinately high property price which impacts negatively many far-reaching social and economic issues that the government should try to address. Traditionally property prices have always been closely linked to income; however in the last 30 years or so the increases in property prices have far outstripped income growth. This causes a higher proportion of the working class not to be able afford to purchase property and moreover it increases the overall cost of living.

It can be argued that the low birth rate and the negative growth in population is caused by the high property prices; the rationale being that young couples can no longer afford to purchase an apartment to start a family - in many instances they wait until they are financially-abled or abandon the idea completely because the financial burden of having a family is so great. Without families, there are no children and hence the population falls.

The high property prices also causes high living costs; every retail commodity will be more expensive because all businesses will pay rent for the premises in which they operate, be it retail or commercial. All expenses will be factored into the final product or service sold.

Hong Kong’s property market is quite well-organised and is effectively controlled by the 5 developers who together own all of the Hong Kong prime commercial and residential buildings and complexes. The developers have been instrumental in driving up prices and maintaining them at these artificially-high rates; understandably for commercially -motivated reasons. A prime example of artificially-controlled property pricing is the high end residential complex Sorrento (in Jordan) completed in 2004; hitherto, only 50% of apartments within this complex have been sold and this is 4 years after the completion of the complex. The developer is offering the apartments at around HK$ 10,000 / sq. ft. which is considered very high in view of location and other factors. Instead of lowering the selling price to attract more buyers, the developer has chosen to maintain the original pricing level even though it’s not being absorbed by the market; in so doing, this props up the property prices of all new developments and all the property prices in the vicinity. If all developers behaved in the same way; Hong Kong can be assured to maintain higher than market price property rates everywhere.

This practice is very beneficial to developers and property investors, however it negatively impacts our society as a whole and reduces the competitiveness of businesses operating in Hong Kong.

The solution to fix this problem is for the government to levy expensive taxes on properties that are empty so it becomes economically not viable for property developers to sit on vacant premises for prolonged periods of time.

Any thoughts?

Obscene Photos of Hong Kong Celebrities

Monday, February 11th, 2008

First and foremost, it’s unfortunate for the celebrities that the photos were leaked… I guess Edison Chen gets off on taking photos of his conquests and it just backfired… 

However, the police are completely out of line in the way they handled the situation; denying bail to an arrested person who did just about the same thing as about thousands upon thousands of other Internet users…. unfortuantely the legislation in Hong Kong and many other places just does not cover these areas and the police cannot invent laws because of the pressure they are receiving from the victims… any thoughts?

Turning off engines at Traffic Lights to curb pollution

Friday, November 16th, 2007

The government recently tabled an initiative to reduce pollution which was for all roadusers to have to switch off their engines whilst waiting at traffic lights….  it must rank as one of the most ludicrous ideas I have ever heard….

Have they thought about how much fuel gets used during the startup of an engine? Have they thought about the wear and tear this would have on cars? Have they thought about the negative impact on traffic this would have?

Police Search

Friday, November 16th, 2007

A bunch of us were in Soho the other night and a plain-clothed policeman and 2 policemen came by and started to interrogate my friend because he was smoking rolled cigarettes. They asked my friend to empty his pockets and other embarrasing things. Should the plain-clothed cop show his ID or badge before making such requests? What is the general procedure?

Smoking In Bars Continued

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Along with smoking in bars being an erosion of our civil rights, the laws regulating smoking in bars are not being followed by the tobacco control office and smoking exemptions are being withdrawn at the whim of the officers rather than for actual infringements of the smoking exemption rules.

 I know of one bar that lost its smoking exemption because it served food.  The smoking ordinance states very clearly that a bar is only in violation of the law if it "PRIMARILY" serves food. 

This bar was never questioned about the percentage of food to alcohol sales, and during its hearing the management was told that it had broken the regulations by allowing a magazine to print an unauthorized note in a dining round-up saying food was available in the bar.

 If the government wants businesses to follow the law, it should follow it itself.

Banning Smoking in Bars

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Another erosion of civil liberties…. the banning of smoking at bars and restaurants… I am a non-smoker and find the banning of smoking in bars to be another instance of our freedom being taken away from us.

An alternative solution would be for the government to setup different licensing policies for smoking and non-smoking bars; and the government can regulate the proportion of smoking to non-smoking bars through pricing control. This offers people who don't wish to suffer second hand smoke to go to bars that are non-smoking and those who wish to smoke to go to bars smoking bars.

Are we becoming too politically-correct?

Pollution in Hong Kong

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

I can't understand why everyone in Hong Kong is asking the government to spearhead initiatives to curb pollution in Hong Kong. It is well-known that ~80% of the pollution comes from the Pearl River Delta region so even if Hong Kong didn't have cars, we would still have serious pollution issues to deal with. Perhaps a more sensible idea would be for the Hong Kong Government to disucss these issues with China. Shouldn't we try to address the real cause?

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