World media joins war on HK gov’t stupidity

Professional Commons, one of many public affairs groups in Hong Kong comprising people who are too intelligent to be allowed to take part in running the city, proudly present a Chief Executive ‘election platform’. None of the presumed hopefuls such as Henry Tang, CY Leung and Rita Fan have come up with one, and somebody’s got to do it. One of the proposals is to scrap the high land price policy and give mainstream Hong Kong people and commerce some affordable space to live and work in – in other words, have a normal economy.

Meanwhile, both the Wall Street Journal and the BBC publish damning reports on the impact of this artificial scarcity of space on the poor. While officials will toss a paper by Professional Commons straight into the bin as irrelevant and impertinent, they take big-name international media outlets more seriously; these twin reports will be noticed behind closed doors and perhaps even do a little bit to add to the mounting pressure on the dimwits who pass as policymakers to accept that there is a problem.

The WSJ, perhaps traumatized into social activism by the sight of its owner’s wife’s pugilistic skills, interviews/videos Yang Lianchun, whose family of four live in 150 square feet of a subdivided Sham Shui Po apartment, for which they have to pay HK$4,000 a month – the bulk of their income. Among the key points in the article: such tiny accommodations are death traps; the situation is radicalizing grassroots people like Yang; and the whole thing comes down to the government’s high land price policy.

The Beeb expresses shock at finding that Hong Kong has poverty, and presents as an example Tam Kin-wai, whose family of three also live in a tiny cubicle home in, as it happens, Sham Shui Po. (Did reporters Polly Hui and Katie Hunt do the assignment together – the two stories complement each other wonderfully – or is northwest Kowloon just crammed full of overseas media these days?) The item highlights the growing unpopularity of the property tycoons and also mentions rising social disquiet. And it quotes Christine Loh of Civic Exchange, another public affairs organization, using the rather uncouth word ‘wodge’.

To the current government, the only feasible response to the poverty represented by such dire living conditions is to offer a multitude of one-off handouts, scattered across the community in the hope of making people feel a bit richer. The deep strategic planning behind these exercises is all too obvious: a HK$6,000 cash payment to everyone, once we can work out how to actually do it; a few hundred bucks off everyone’s monthly electricity bills, since we’re obviously not burning enough coal; computer studies for the underprivileged, to be delivered as a thinly disguised election campaign by a pro-government group; and, um, let’s do the electricity bill subsidy thing again.

Professional Commons have an actual solution, and they have outlined it in a PowerPoint presentation. As things currently stand, the government attaches great importance to land sales and leases as a source of (superfluous) revenue, to the extent that it doesn’t care if it squeezes what must be a huge amount of economic activity out of existence. The group suggests that this extreme perversity – damaging the welfare of an entire economy of 7 million people just to secure a humble revenue stream – be stopped. Let a hundred small and medium enterprises bloom.

It is not, as Professional Commons would readily admit, a new idea. Every other former British colony that used this steal-the-land-and-sell-it fiscal system has long since scrapped it. Artificially reducing the supply of essential economic inputs like living and working space makes as much sense as deliberately driving up the costs of food, clothing or medicine. The rejuvenation and diversification of the city without this burden (slide 10) can only be guessed at, but imagine taking a vibrant and broad-based economy and introducing the sort of rationing of space we currently enforce. It would be economic vandalism.

It would be interesting to force senior officials to watch a presentation of this sort; they would have to be strapped down and have their eyes clamped open. (Actually, they would mockingly laugh and condescendingly inform you that it’s much more complicated than that, and you simply don’t understand). It sometimes feels as if they are malicious, so destructive are the whole land and related policies. If it’s any consolation, they probably don’t mean any harm. They are just little cretins.

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21 Responses to World media joins war on HK gov’t stupidity

  1. Mike Hunt says:

    All senior civil servants in Hong Kong -including the Commisioner of Police- hope to retire to a lucrative second career with one of the major property developers.

    It is therefore rather naive to expect these same fine people to implement any policy that could possibly threaten that platinum nest egg.

    As far the Innovation-Driven Economy is concerned: I hope that is not quite the same idea as Vagina Ip’s “let’s turn Yuen Long into another Silicon Valley with tax-payers’ money”.

  2. Real Tax Payer says:

    I too noticed the article in this morning’s SCMP about the Professional Commons’ efforts to try force the CE election candidates to at least state their postions on a number of key issues, and I even downloaded the pdf for further study. Seems to me to be good idea.

    Otherwise, whoever is elected will just promise to “get the job done” without ever saying what the job is meant to be ( same as good ole’ Donald -I-duck-whenever- anyone-mentions-goals). Pathetic.

    I have a lot of sympathy with the young protestor who is alleged to have jostled DD, and I am seriously thinking of doing something with a paper plate of shaving cream to him ( I somehow think Mrs Tsang will not have such a nifty right jab as Wendi Deng) . Maybe that’s the only way to get his attention these days. So sad.

  3. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    What’s with this Wendi Deng right jab and/or left hook crap? Looking at the video, she grabbed him with her left and delivered an open hand swat to the top of his head. Not a jab or hook to be seen.

    People these days wouldn’t know a punch even if it hit them in the face.

  4. Maugrim says:

    There’s a lot of truth in the Professional Commons report. The present system creates many distortions. Look around, it would seem that the only businesses that can afford high rents are 711’s and shops selling gold or watches. This stifles an entrepreneurial spirit that is one of HK’s key success factors.

  5. Stephen says:

    When non Honky’s ask me why The Big Lychee’s property prices are the highest in the world my answer is that’s it’s Government policy. Many think it’s lack of space which is utter Horseshite!

    This policy, which has so distorted this city on so many levels, requires the collusion of politicians and media with the Property Developer companies and families which benefit obscenely from it.

    That these same Developer families largely appoint (why do I still read in so many comments the word elected) the Government makes Hong Kong’s look institutionally corrupt.

  6. Real Tax Payer says:

    Maugrim: you forgot estate agents :

    SCMP Business News today : “”The number of estate agents in Hong Kong has reached a record high…..The Estate Agents Authority yesterday said the number of individual licensees, including salespeople and estate agents, hit a high of 33,022 at the end of last month, up 12.6 per cent from a year earlier …”

    TFF: OK, OK it was a right swat (I didn’t watch it live). But if that what a swat does, think what a hook would do !

    There’s a website that has been running since 1897:
    http://www.propertydevelopers/govt_collusion/jobs_for_the_boys.con
    It’s interesting to see who has signed up for it. I like the foot note at the bottom which asks all corruption offences to be detailed with date, name of property developer and the amount of extra given away free.

    HAS ANYONE HEARD WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ONE-YEAR LONG POLICE INVESTIGATION INTO 39 CONDUIT ROAD ?

    Guess the police officers running it are all called stephenson . Certainly it’s a racket, not a rocket

  7. chopped onions says:

    I love the way we all agree and comment and carry on hoping it will change. Well it won’t. However, a couple of these fuckers up against a wall , might focus minds, especially if the bastards families recieved a bill for the bullet as eye-watering as the ones they’re so keen to dish out……

  8. FB3 says:

    It does seem rather strange that China is willing to tolerate the growing unrest caused by an incompetent government & the real estate tycoons.

    If it continues to grow it will boil over & undoubtedly impact on HKs reputation as as economic centre.

    I think most of us here are lucky as we can leave at any time but I feel sad for the HK’ers that have no alternative.

    This is a great place to live & to watch it go down the sh*tter for the sake of a few powerful families is such a pity.

  9. Maugrim says:

    RTP, hai la, you’re right. Frankly, with the higher rents, HK is becoming a little more boring. There’s a shop i always used to call into in Wanchai, it’s been there at least since the 80’s selling DVD’s and ‘parallel import’ cough, audio cd’s etc. Its now gone along with adjacent shops, plastered with real estate agent’s flyers.

  10. Real Tax Payer says:

    Chopped Onions: Yes you are right . I have followed the Big Lychee for well over a year but rarely commented until lately. But suddenly I am getting so P******d off that I feel I must say something, somewhere , otherwise I swear one day I will throw a plate of shaving cream in DD’s face ( but Henry’s face would do just as well and it would spoil his slick smile )

    Don’t know if you and others read Michael Chugani in the SCMP. But he has recently been commenting on the the increasing ANGER in HK society at ….. well everything that is so blatently wrong. And he feels, as I do, that will eventually boil over

    Ever read the book ” Tipping Point” ?

    FB3 may feel he/ she can leave HK at any time, and so – technically – can I. But I have no intention ever to do so having spent half my life here. And neither do I intend to let the Big Lychee go down the shoot if there’s anything I can do to stop the rot ( including flinging shaving cream at ducks and horses)

    At the risk of boring you… there was an incredible half page article on page 2 of China Daily today ( as published in Shangai where I am just now) about a Guangzhou fresh college graduate called Ou Jiayang who got so p******d off about some malfeance in GZ city administation that she started a micro-blog campaign and everyone could mail in pics of a thumbs-up for what she is trying to do. She also got 1,000 guys to shave their heads on-line in protest . Finally she got the attention of the GZ authorities . Some gal ! ( beats Mrs murdoch any day for pure initiative and guts)

    OK – if I slap DD in the face with a plate of shaving cream I will get arrested. But what if I get in front of his face when all the press are watching and slap myself in the face with shaving cream…. , carrying a sign saying “I take this insult on behalf of you Mr Tsang, who justly deserves the insult for your p**s -awful performance of late. At least I get MY JOB DONE to insult you by proxy”

    Well now I have given myself away if ever I do that as a stunt

    But seriously, something will soon tip. I feel it in my bones…..

    PS: murdoch had everything going for him for years: politicians, money, power ( beautiful Chinese wife) . But suddenly, one little slip, one inadvertant chink in his amour, and he is now grovelling , reputation destroyed for ever and abandoned by ever by all the politicians whom he once had in his pocket. Property developers – all : if you or your proxies are reading this blog ( and I am sure your proxies are reading it ) YOUR TIME IS COMING . Get ready for the murdoch treatment and be sure that 99.999% of HK will gloat and scream with joy as they see your reputation bleed …

  11. Walter De Havilland says:

    The final nail in the coffin for Hong Kong was the appointment of LAU Wong-fat to Exco. It’s remarkable that the so-called free press have been silent on background and activities in the 1970s.

  12. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    RTP – I’m not sure that I’d say that Murdoch made “one little slip”. More like an institutionalised culture of ‘slipping’ with tacit (if not explicit) management consent plus culture of ruining other people’s lives for profit.

  13. Real Tax Payer says:

    TFF : You are correct . I should have said “one fatal slip”

    One day the property barons will do the same , and when that happens I will crow with glee

    You can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time. But you cannot fool all the people all the time ( not even in BJ)

    BTW: News today in China Daily China edition ( friay) is not very complimentary re Ms Wendy Deng. Seems she’s a real gold digger. Not only did she break up the murdoch’s marriage to get him, but many years ago when a kind-hearted American family sponsored her to study in USA, she broke up their marriage too, marrying the guy, who was somewhat elderly, and then divorcing him as soon as she got her green card. Guess she needs that right hook ….

  14. nulle says:

    RTP: actually wendi deng is the gold digger…

    she had an affair with the husband (men#1) of the family sponsoring her to study in the US…married men#1 and divorced men#1 while having an affair on men #2 after getting US residency…then cheats on men #2 and break up Murdoch’s 2nd marriage…

    I guess that’s how some chinese get to the *top* of the world..

    regards to hong kong, I would love to see young people get seriously pissed and revolt (with malatov cocktails) raining them on the police. in fact, some of the young people should have chats with the anarchists to see the details of the (2008?) WTO protest in Seattle..

  15. nulle says:

    on 2nd thought. use rotten veggies and rotten eggs in the thousands works better than molotov cocktails…(maybe the cocktails after the veggies 🙂

  16. Real Tax Payer says:

    Nulle,

    Don’e even mention the “M-type cocktails” even if in jest ( which of course it was)

    The kids who blocked the road at the end of the July 1 demo were IMHO stupid to the extreme, to polarize what was a very dignified demo up until that point.

    Keep it peaceful , passive , but as insulting as possible ! ( And if possible amusing)

    I still prefer my stunt – having suitably briefed the press to expect something BIG .

    I slap myself with a paper plate of shaving cream in front of DD’s face

    BUT….. JUST IMAGINE …….. 1,000 demonstrators all do that in unison in front of a huge banner saying ‘WE GET THE JOB DONE, EVEN IF YOU DON’T : WE ALL INSULT DD AND HIS IDIOT TEAM BY PROXY ” when DD appears at sime very public occasion

    (Note to self : check if a paper plate with shaving cream is considered Lethal Weapon 5 by HK Police ….. )

    Methinks I will feed this idea to Longhair…..

  17. nulle says:

    RTP..your idea ain’t bad…rotten eggs and veggies works much better, even balloons full of light corn syrup…if you have the money…bring in a hundred or so disabled cars and just leave it there 🙂

    actually as an alternative, I am refreshing this idea…make a change…don’t do any business with any organization that are part of the real estate tycoon conglormoates…

    buy your groceries from wet markets. avoid shopping at wellcome and/or Park’n’Shop or their affilaites (360)…if you haven’t do so, don’t buy property from the real estate tycoons, don’t use PWCC…(avoiding HK Electric or China Electric is hard…) don’t ride MTR [you get the concept…]

    (idea courtesy of the HongkieTown.)

  18. nulle says:

    in csae you are interested, some mainlander came to hong kong and burn the chinese flag…the people guarding the flag is quaking in their boots for potential execution…

    http://the-sun.on.cc/cnt/news/20110723/00405_001.html

    http://news.google.com/news/story?cf=all&ned=hk&ncl=dLzh34PDmThvmpMPh7DFn0sZjvmnM&topic=n

    I wonder how long would it be before the post 80s generation start to burn the chinese flag during demonstrations…hmmm

  19. Real Tax Payer says:

    Nulle:

    Sorry, but boy-cotting collusion-stores is no use, and I must admit that the latest Park n’ Shop “Fusion” stores are great : true one-stop shopping, albeit expensive ( call me BLACK-LEG if you wish!)

    And burning national flags is a total NO – NO – NO !

    Please PLEASE don’t desecrate this blog with such crazy ideas , or we will end up with something stoopid like Norway

    Hey ! BJ rescued us from old Tung * and they may yet rescue us from Donald and Henry ( but as to whom they finally choose is still in the balance) Full marks to BJ . They at least have their heads screwed on straight .

    I stick to my point of view : BJ’s represntatives’ IQs are a factor of 6 x higher that anyone in HK govt ( and seeing that IQs top at 180 and imbeciles at 30, that says the truth about the idiots who now run us )

    * Standing joke about old Tung ( bless his cotton socks ) : He had a dual lobotomy brain surgery but the surgeons couldn’t find anything right on the left side , and nothing left on the right side

    LOL !

  20. A fairly uneventful flight for me from Hong Kong to ye olde England and mayhem abound in Norway & Wenzhou. 🙁

    As for Hong Kong’s predicament with the Real Estate cum Utilities cum Everything-else oligarchy… it would seem the only thing they (the tycoons) would understand is a collective huge loss of face.

    Hmmm…

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