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Posts Tagged ‘hong kong’


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.

39 Conduit Road - Transparent or Not?

Monday, 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.

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

Monday, 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

Friday, 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 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?

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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