Relevant professional knowledge, insightful comments produce constructive dialogues

Ceaselessly jabbering National People’s Congress deputy Rita Fan says, to no-one’s great surprise, that it was she who started the Great Hong Kong Preliminary Election Debate Controversy Scare of 2013. Essentially, her proposal was that 100 pro-Beijing loyalists would meet in a secret conclave and announce the Chinese Communist Party’s approved Chief Executive candidates via smoke signals from a chimney, and the city’s voters could then choose between them via universal suffrage. It was just something she blurted out. Just as most of us jerk our leg when a doctor taps our knee, Rita involuntarily yacks when a reporter puts a microphone before her. It’s surely not my fault, she basically pleads, if they take what I say seriously.

Mercifully, the two-week circus in the nation’s capital comes to an end tomorrow for another year.

Back home, the Economic Development Commission has its first meeting. A gushing government press release informs us that…

Members with immense experience and relevant professional knowledge have made insightful comments and entered into interactive and constructive dialogues [sic] with the Government on how to grasp the opportunities provided for under the National 12th Five-Year Plan and other plans, as well as how to promote further economic development and how to maintain Hong Kong’s long term competitiveness.

Fatuous Waffle ‘R’ Us. Chief Executive CY Leung set the body up a couple of months back. Members include a generous number of pro-establishment business figures from former-CE Donald Tsang’s time, which suggests a rift-healing effort to please Beijing.

However, there is a less symbolic side to it all, concerning a question that dates back to colonial times: should Hong Kong stick with its supposed non-interventionism or should it go for Singapore-style state planning? Today’s China Daily columnist is a typical proponent of the latter approach, saying the old approach has left our economy…

…too lopsided, relying too much on a few sectors, particularly real estate and finance…

The Chief Executive’s move to help develop other industries and diversify the economy is the right step for tackling the city’s deep-seated social problems. A diversified economy and thriving industries will help improve the city’s job-market structure, providing better employment opportunities and upward mobility to workers while giving rise to a stronger middle class.

Government’s direct investment in certain industries or projects is necessary, especially when they are still in nascent stages and fail to attract sufficient private investment, or when they are critical to the development of other industries…

The argument is that because there is so much profit to be made out of real estate, capital fails to flow into other industries. It is an analysis that confuses cause and effect. Capital fails to flow into other industries because it gets sucked up by the real-estate sector and its highly supportive associate, Government Land Monopoly Inc. Thanks to an artificial shortage of space, rents (landlord/developer/government earnings) are so high that only financial services and luxury brand retailers can generate enough profit to exist. The economy does not ‘rely’ too much on real estate; real estate is a parasite.

If government and developers sucked up less of the profit made by wealth-creating economic activities, a hundred commercial flowers could bloom. What would they be? They might be health care, or nanotechnology, or creative blah-blah, or some state-picked ‘pillar’ industry. Or they might be something else that hadn’t occurred to bureaucrats. Investors and entrepreneurs would put their resources into whatever they thought would bring the best returns. The key is: they would have an incentive to do so because they would no longer have to share so much of the returns with property tycoons and John Tsang.

Proponents of more government intervention in capital allocation, rather than less government control of land, must be doing one of two things. Either they are putting the cart before the horse, out of sheer simple-mindedness. Or they want to nurture certain industries without disrupting the property cartel-government racket – said industries just so happening to be ones they are involved in, and said nurturing to be accomplished with your and my money.

Many of the academics involved in this debate belong to the first group. They are so accustomed to the distortions of the land system they don’t notice them. Certain business figures, however, surely come in the second, rather more odious, category. The South China Morning Post quotes two members of the Economic Development Commission…

…The government is ready to plan for the next 10 to 20 years, Allan Zeman, chairman of Ocean Park, said. “The government used to have its hands off. Now, like Singapore, it is showing quite a strong leadership.”…

…Allen Ha, chairman of the Lantau Economic Development Alliance, called upon the government to … boost the city’s tourism capacity by supplying more land for hotels.

Pro-democrat politicians could demand: “Whose land is it anyway?” Instead, they loudly demand that EDC members make declarations of interests. Sheets of paper? Look all around – their interests are staring you in the face.

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14 Responses to Relevant professional knowledge, insightful comments produce constructive dialogues

  1. Yes, it’s a bad news day with everyone behaving predictably. Rita was her usual femdom self.

    You’ve certainly hit the nail on the head when you say that people don’t even know what they are doing any more, blinded by the property hypnosis/mantra/fixation. It’s like living in Hitler’s Germany and wanting to talk about Comparative Literature.

    There were three Main News items about property and related issues in one edition of the Standard today whilst the SCMP led on mortgages.

    Surely there must be a LIfe out there beyond consumption, bank accounts, share dividends and floor area prices?

  2. Failed Alchemist says:

    We are exhilarated that Rita the Yoyo has thot deeply about political reform. No doubt when the Pan-Demos decided to horse trade, they realise it was going to be a free for all since looking at their ranks, they love a good melee in the name of democracy. Either that, they were sheer dumb but of course Rita takes the cake in everything we feel speechless about.

    And we fool ourselves to think that the tycoons will not have a share of new industries – that is why its called an Octopus card!! They have built their bullets since the 60’s and 70’s. Even international conglomerates like Carrefour didn’t have a fighting chance. Cash is King.

    Therefore, Singapore’s hybrid socialism works. We run everything, you shut up, do what we tell you to do etc… Their universe is exploding with technocrats, not tycoons. So, in order to bring back sanity to our Lychee following these comrades, use the reserves to buy MTR & Link Reit etc.. make universal pension juicy enough so that ppl are willing to surrender it back, no, not to the bankers but to US. Hey, with all its blemishes it works (at least for now till they hit the 7 mil mark and we our 10 mil).

    But, the final word comes from dear Solomon… there’s nothing new under the sun… go figue dearest Rita.

  3. Sojourner says:

    “Surely there must be a LIfe out there beyond consumption, bank accounts, share dividends and floor area prices?”

    Don’t be silly, Bela. Capital is King.

  4. Wealthee Kwok says:

    Anyone catch the SCMP’s online poll on whether Hong Kong should be returned to Britain? And 93 percent voted “yes”.

    Those mischief-making subs are getting out of hand again. The editor needs to send another email before the next Shangri-la in China runs into licensing problems.

  5. Stephen says:

    The Big Lychee is Real Estate and Finance whilst are daily lives are run by four conglomerates cheered on by the Civil Service. All of whom are safe in the knowledge that there will be no real change in governance until the CCP withers and dies.

    When some odious scion blathers on about no change, you get where they are coming from, they are gorging themselves. You also get Elsie who will in likelihood get buried in a red hammer and sickle flag.

    Then there is Rita – some of us remember the Mark 1 British version – what’s in it for her? She can’t be an Elsie and neither does she have money pouring out her ears like Li, Lee, Kwok or Cheng ? Perhaps she’s just a sad old bat who likes the attention she gets in Beijing? Perhaps if we all ignore her she might just go away?

  6. Maugrim says:

    Slightly OT, this is worth reading:
    http://www.tealeafnation.com/2013/03/from-one-hub-a-view-of-chinas-worldwide-underground-milk-powder-network/

    As was this quote:

    “Comprehensive response strategy to the HK milk powder purchasing restriction: when you get pregnant, go to Hong Kong and buy three cans of milk powder. When you get caught at the border and are unable to pay the 500,000, you will get sentenced to two years in jail. There, you are safe from gutter oil [a cheap recycled oil illicitly used in some Chinese foods]. When you give birth, your child automatically receives Hong Kong citizenship and the HK government will provide you with milk powder. After two years you return to the mainland, and when your child turns 18 you all move to HK to lead a happy middle-class life.”

  7. Local Tax Payer says:

    It’s sometimes worried me that we have a minister for development, since we’re meant to be already developed and more concrete is the last thing we need.

    But now I know why. It’s to give face and a raison d’etre to the Lantau Economic Development Alliance, LEDA for short, Leda being of course Zeus’s bedmate, and plump erotic symbol in her own right.

    Speaking of which, Rita is certainly getting off on something, and I wouldn’t like to get within arm’s reach of her.

    I suspect she’s like the Alex Lo’s and Chuganis of this world: petrified at being accused of being unpatriotic or anti-Chinese or of believing pre-1997 was a happier time, hence appeasing, flattering and generally licking up for all they’re worth, and orgasmicly relieved at their intimate thoughts not being found out.

  8. Property Developer says:

    Maugrim, The reason I love this milk-powder issue, and the various other anti-mainlander issues (locusts, right of abode, 15% tax) is that they show up the failure of the mainland system and the (relative) superiority of the HK one.

    Perhaps we should go on and on about “helping” the poor benighted mainland, not only the poisoned babies but the political apparatchiks by showing them how an uncorrupted legal system works?

  9. Dream Bear says:

    The hypocracy of the Catholics never ceases to take my breath away. Here in Hong Kong the Catholic leaders demand democracy and yet their own leader is chosen behind closed doors by, amongst others, individual known to have protected pedophiles and child rapists. The Catholics would be more credible if they put their own house in order.

  10. Hendrick says:

    Huge fines imposed on the Mainland in respect of milk powder smuggling provide a massive increase in “perk” income for the bent customs service workforce. The cycle continues – again, more embarrassing riches for officials to launder in HK and Macau. Less noodle shops in Causeway Bay. Surely the Mainland authorities know this. Is the ultimate goal to reduce HK to a shopping mall holiday camp ?

  11. Hendrick says:

    Ooops – misread fines info, imposed in HK ! Therefore, illogical.
    Nevertheless, same long term aims stand.

  12. Joe Blow says:

    Dream Bear, why don’t you volunteer to organize elections of 1,200,000,000 Catholics on five continents ?
    If we are lucky we may get a democracy icon like Berlusconi, or a Chavez, or maybe the Rev. Robert Mugabe. But only if we are lucky.

  13. Dream Bear says:

    @Joe Blow. Surely the Catholics should be able to organize an election without my help. After all they have successfully organized the subjugation of women for centuries, facilitated the spread of AIDS and masterminded a global cover up for pedophiles. In any case, if they can get them into the churches, let them vote on the way out. Easy.

  14. Thin Man says:

    As an example of the pretentious, self-important wankery that exists in the food blogosphere, ‘Peech’ who also reviewed the place in question, is up there:

    http://www.diarygrowingboy.com/2013/03/dutchys-got-talent.html#more

    Where is Raymonde Q Sacklyn when we need him?

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