‘Win-Win’ as all real-estate agents deported to make way for Mainlanders

One in 10 Mainlanders, the online South China Morning Post was saying this morning, calls Hong Kong home. That would be some 130 million of them. Looking around Causeway Bay, some might say that sounds about right; the key word of course is ‘home’, which does not mean ‘source of tax-free junk and non-poisonous baby food’. The print edition, to my great disappointment, gets it right. Hong Kong has taken in 762,044 people from north of the border since the handover. This arises from a Legislative Council question asked by the Democratic Party’s Sin Chung-kai about the One-Way Permit system.

Two things jump out from the Security Bureau’s response. First, the government sees family-reunion immigration from the Mainland as ‘among the important sources of population growth in Hong Kong’. This raises a basic philosophical question: why do we need an ever-rising number of people? The government would usually blather on about the ageing population, but it can’t on this occasion because many of the family-reunion permits go to ‘overage children’, many of whom are middle-aged by now and thus adding to the dreaded demographic disaster we are constantly being told to expect. But to repeat: why, in a city that seems institutionally incapable of finding and allocating even a bare minimum of living space for existing residents, are we supposed to want a growing population?

Second, the official response says there are no ‘justifications or needs’ to (in effect) change the system whereby Mainland, not Hong Kong, authorities decide who gets the permit and when. Off the top of my head, I can think of three ‘justifications or needs’: suspicions that the Mainland authorities are corrupt in handling applications; suspicions that priority goes to Communist Party loyalists to bolster the local United Front presence and pro-Beijing voter base; we’re getting people with low skills who potentially burden the rest of society. And that’s just before breakfast.

On an infinitely more positive, indeed joyful, note: real-estate agency branches are at last starting to close, and the spotty, spiky-haired intermediaries who molest passers-by with developers’ glossy brochures are being rounded up, loaded onto cattle trucks and sent off to be recycled into something socially useful and biodegradable. The Standard, a friend of the property tycoons and the real-estate firms that do much of their dirty work, buys the story that agents’ headcounts are not falling. The collapse in transactions says otherwise.

Correction 1: Considering many property agents’ apparent extreme unsuitability for economically productive work, Mainlanders migrating to Hong Kong under the One-Way Permit scheme are probably boosting our overall human talent levels after all.

Correction 2: The waving of property developers’ glossy brochures no longer takes place. A developer is complying with new regulations on disclosure of information by producing 1,500-page, 10-kg, 11-cm-thick documents. My first reaction on seeing this story was ‘I bet those lousy bastards at Sun Hung Kai are doing this as part of a temper tantrum at no longer being legally allowed to cheat consumers over apartment size’. I swiftly slapped myself out of shame for thinking such a despicable thought.

But then… just a couple of paragraphs into the story, and already there are two people quoted as thinking along much the same lines. How could such wanton cynicism become so widespread?

The brochure that’s bigger than an IPO prospectus concerns a development called the Riva, out in sunny Yuen Long. Obviously, it’s still being built, so suckers thinking of buying can only go and see the ‘show flat’…


Ignore the grotesque chandelier, which is actually quite tasteful by developers’ standards. Note the sideboard, possibly intended to look like a wine bottle cabinet, by the window with the fake blue sky outside. Can it be any more than six inches deep? Note the chairs on either side of it, similarly almost too small to be of any real use. And then of course, the diminutive dining table at which eight people could not possibly have a meal together; even with Snow White sitting at the end, the seven dwarves wouldn’t have enough elbow room.

The idea, of course, is to make the area look bigger than it really is. And to think there’s a couple of cozy, 60-square-foot cells at Stanley Prison that just might possibly have Thomas and Raymond Kwok’s names on them…


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16 Responses to ‘Win-Win’ as all real-estate agents deported to make way for Mainlanders

  1. More people, more chandeliers, more, more, more!

    I asked a property agent whether everyone was going to be sacked but he wasn’t impressed by my goading.

    They have also stopped reacting when I cackle in their office doorway.

    They are a very resilient lot here in Stanley.

    Personally, I like the window displays ridiculous figures for flats. It keeps the riff-raff away. We have enough of them already, mostly driving BMWs or pushing dog prams.

  2. Failed Alchemist says:

    Can we really trust the Security Bureau’s stats? Didn’t they come out a few month’s ago with the “wham bam short-cut” census’ dept “can’t get it right” figures? Reported in Canada that Mainlanders self checking out of tour groups & dissapearing in the country.

    Maybe a quick search in semi-ghetto Yuen Long should locate missing tourist.. at the Riva, maybe?

    Well at least someone has to wash the dishes at the local eatery or run the fish store at the local market since HKer’s are opting out for higher paying jobs, opening lucrative SME’s and moving to the Peak.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    Ah, the dining table conundrum !

    Walk into any $60 k per month shoe-box in Midlevels and you will see an ugly rectangle of wood (or worse: glass) accompanied by 8 equally ugly ‘modern’ chairs (white “leather” and such). Then you do a headcount of the household: 1, sometimes 2. Then you ask The Question: “why 8 chairs ?”
    The Answer: “For when I have ‘mates’ over for a dinner-pahtee, y’know”. Then it turns out that the last dinner-pahtee was 4 1/2 years ago, approximately.

  4. S Snape says:

    The cackeling is getting unseemly the morons in the HK government are trashing HK’s business USP (we wont mess with your right to buy and sell stuff) because well not sure why actualy.

    Property boom property crash its the hong kong way or it was….

  5. Mongkok Mzungu says:

    Soon to be seen: buy an SHK apartment, and get a free wine cabinet filled with bottles from La Collection Tang.


    I will open a bottle for every closed down real estate agency I see – on the last count there were 19 within a 100m radius.

  6. Stephen says:

    How many Mainlanders does Midland employ to cater for the 1 in 10? Presumably this figure will rise substantially as the CCP increases the number to ensure “democracy” produces the right result in 2017 and 2022 – as if there was any doubt!

    Looking forward to the sevens tomorrow and I note China is represented only by the Big Lychee and Taiwan ROC (sorry plucky flagless Chinese Taipei) this year.

  7. Property Developer says:

    The fake-wine cabinet is there (a) to stop the neighbours 3 ft away filming you (b) to stop people jumping through the window and (c) to give the maid somewhere to hide her handbag.

    The two extra chairs are there to stop buyers realising there are neighbours within spitting distance.

    I still don’t get the Duck’s target of 10 million: surely we need to increase the number of immigrants just to keep the population steady, or have I missed something?

  8. Chopped Onions says:

    Re La Collection de Tang, I read somewhere yesterday that a number of the bottles in his “oh sh@t lets get rid of it then” wine collection have subsequently proven to be “cough cough” a bit dodgy, something about the wrong colour of the seal…….

  9. Maugrim says:

    As the spikey haired chain smoking real estate agents have disappeared they are being replaced by pharmacies of various sorts.

  10. Jeff says:

    Hong Kong, the home of bright, go getting entrepreneurial bushiness masters! A free market tiger! Bold, daring, and always innovative. That old Hong Kong ingenuity. Forget Silicon valley, the action, the rising Asia, is right here!

    Eight, yes, eight property agencies on in my village of 2000 people or so. A new one opening every day. Most of the new ones owned and staffed by 25 year olds.

    These people just have no idea what else to do.

    There is nothing else to do.

  11. Newsflash says:

    General strike looms nearer…perhaps you heard it here first. Better put a hold on the chandelier purchase and cash in those stocks.

    (RTHK) The Alliance for True Democracy has been officially launched.

    It consists of all 27 pan-democratic lawmakers, who have pledged to work closely together to push for “real” democracy in Hong Kong.

    The convenor of the Alliance, Joseph Cheng from City University, said the top priority of the group is to encourage discussion in society on the way to achieve universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election in 2017.

    Professor Cheng stressed the group would not support any sort of pre-screening process, and opposes suggestions that future candidates must “love China and love Hong Kong” to join the CE race.

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    Three thoughts for the day :

    1. I predicted in 1997 that HK’s population would grow in the next 10 – 15 years by 1 Million extra people from the Mainland : whether as kids of cross/ border marriages, genuine immigration, or – more likely – wealthy HK guys bringing their mistresses to live here . At 762 K mainland immigrants to date it seems I got it pretty much correct ( at least more accurate than whisker’s budgets )

    2. According to RTP’s 3nd law of obfuscation ( somewhat akin to Newton’s 3rd law of motion : “action and reaction are equal and opposite” ) : “The thickness of a property sales brochure is directly proportional to the likelihood you are being ripped off”

    PS: for those discerning readers, the crucial term in the latest SHK Riva brochure which f****ks – sorry – screws – sorry “correctly informs” you is on page 1,434 section 363 (B), Art. 6, para 4, para C 2.2.23

    3. If 2 X kwok bros ( + raffy hui) do end up in jail, I hope they are given a 1,500 prospectus of the cell they being locked up in. And on page 1,434 section 363 (B), Art. 6, para 4, para C 2.2.23 they will read : ” You think you are getting 100 sq ft gross = 80 sq ft net cell , but actually you are only getting 30 sq ft which you can physically move around in , so F**k YOU IDIOT

  13. dopey says:

    Apropos of nothing. I recall a what if article pumping up the 100M+ Mark Six draw held last year (or whenever) a couple of 20-somethings asked what they’d do with the winnings “Buy some flats, and rent them out…”. The dearth of imagination is stunning.

  14. S Snape says:

    Well what wrong with that? I mean all they said was use it to create a long term cash flow . So long as you assume that is not the ONLY thing they are doing – its got to be better thna blowing it all and being left with nothing.

    To be hones i suspect that most of the readers of this blog would do something similar.

  15. Sojourner says:

    Any predictions for the 3:30 at Chester, RTP?

  16. Hong Kong must be the only place in the world where there are villages that have an estate agency but no village shop. Good riddance to ’em.

    I remember when my wife and i were taking our first step on the housing ladder (when the first step was not yet ten feet off the ground), viewing a flat where the wash basin in the bathroom (perhaps bath cubicle would be more accurate) was so minuscule that one could only wash one hand at a time in it. i don’t believe that fact was mentioned in the brochure!

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