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October 22nd, 2013
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Posts Tagged ‘hk’


National Education | Hong Kong is not ready

Monday, 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

Wednesday, 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’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?

Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

I have been grappling with the idea of universal suffrage in Hong Kong but hitherto cannot see any discernible benefits from it. Thus far, without universal suffrage, Hong Kong is still by far the free-est place I’ve ever lived in, I can speak freely about what I think, I feel safe when I leave my house, I can setup a business from scratch with little to no assistance and I can enjoy a multi-cultural and multi-religious environment free of discrimination.

What will universal suffrage bring? America, for instance, has universal suffrage but it is one of the most unsafe places to live in, where racism is rife and you cannot even walk down the street drinking a beer…..

Have I missed out on something?

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