Hong Kong starts the day with a smirk. The Securities and Futures Commission orders the ‘unwinding’ of the sale of hotel suites at Cheung Kong’s Apex Horizon project on the grounds that it was technically an investment scheme that needed its authorization. In other words: give the mugs their money back.
Tycoon Li Ka-shing’s deputy assistant sub-running dog Justin Chiu puts on a brave face, saying in effect that Cheung Kong is 100% in the right and could easily mash the crummy little SFC to a pulp, but won’t because social harmony is so important. Coming after Li’s discomfiting brush with striking dockworkers, this is the sort of thing that brings a little ray of sunshine into our lives. (All this and the giant rubber duck…)
The Apex Horizon fiasco could get even funnier. Several dozen buyers have already flipped their units to earn such life-changing quick returns as HK$85,000. Cheung Kong will nonetheless try to repurchase the properties via them, which assumes that these speculators know or care about the whereabouts of the secondary buyers (or tertiary ones?) and are, in principle, willing to give back that fast, easy profit they made – if they haven’t blown it in Macau. Presumably, Cheung Kong will end up waiving this and paying off that to get the suites back.
So heart-warming is this story that the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling to allow a transsexual to marry gets relegated to second place on the front pages. The Equal Opportunities Commission and others are predictably happy to find that bewigged senior members of the judiciary are so hip and groovy about gender identity and, by implication, the ever-growing array of other sexual minorities. One part of the judgment in particular stands out…
The Court further held that whether a consensus regarding a transsexual’s right to marry exists among the people of Hong Kong is not a relevant consideration since reliance on the absence of a majority consensus as a reason for rejecting a minority’s claim is inimical in principle to fundamental rights.
In plain English, this says two things. First, regardless of how many guitar-playing pastors and mewling teachers the mouth-frothing Biblical-literalist freaks of the Society of Truth and Light gather at protests, they can go stuff themselves. Second, there are such things as universal rights, and apologists for the Chinese Communist Party and others who dismiss the idea as a Western plot can go stuff themselves as well, so there.
Finally, something interesting – a bit, anyway – happens in the world of local publications. Behold: Harbour Times.
From what I can gather after an extensive few minutes’ snooping around, this is a libertarian project with links to our very own Lion Rock Institute and the US-based Center for Freedom and Prosperity. In the manner of so many think-tanks-turned-lobbyists, the latter is a proponent of flat taxes and our inalienable right to stash our profits offshore beyond the Internal Revenue’s grasp. Among interviews and features concerning politicians, diplomats and various policy areas, readers can expect a lot of emphasis on free markets and, specifically, warnings of threats to banking secrecy and offshore low-tax regimes, not that Hong Kong needs much convincing on these matters.
So it sounds like some Koch Brothers’ front pushing the interests of billionaires who don’t want to pay tax. However, they say they want a forum for Hong Kong’s entire political spectrum to engage in lively and civil discourse. It’s bilingual, will be in print as well as on-line, will have some sort of companion publication for local diplomats and will be free for political VIPs (and probably not very widely read if it charges the rest of us). It will take advertising. Intriguingly, it specifically mentions political advertising – a field in which Hong Kong is sadly backward.
Note that the title uses the British spelling for ‘Harbour’. This could be a clever device to disguise radical right American corporate funding and ideology. (The Koch brothers are, of course, trying to buy up mainstream media. Could this be Step 1 in grabbing the South China Morning Post and Sing Tao)? Then again, the publishers are talking about selling subscriptions and carrying ads, which suggests they’re hard up, so it could just be that the Canadian editor can’t abide ‘Harbor’. Either way, a bit more anti-Communist, Western cultural-imperialist propaganda is always welcome.