Bhoocha-Oom to the rescue

“The name’s Bhoocha-Oom. Areepong Bhoocha-Oom.” You would expect great things from a man called Areepong Bhoocha-Oom. And indeed he does not disappoint. In his capacity as Thailand’s Permanent Secretary for Finance, Areepong Bhoocha-Oom has decided to cut import tariffs on overpriced designer-label ‘luxury’ crap of the sort whose retail outlets have been spreading like an uncontrollable cancer through and beyond the shopping districts of Hong Kong. His aim is to lure brand-obsessed Mainlanders away from the Big Lychee, and what can we say except: Areepong Bhoocha-Oom – gentleman, genius and saviour.  

Will it work? The levies, currently 30%, could come down to a nice, neat zero – matching the levels in Hong Kong. Given Bangkok’s far lower rents and labour costs, that could make the Land of Smiles better value for money for at least some of the ‘locust’ tourists who have become Hong Kong’s great curse. Thai airline and hotel stocks have leapt as much as 10% at the news.

One encouraging sign is that the Standard doesn’t like it, calling the measure a declaration of war. We can surely take heart if Areepong Bhoocha-Oom worries supporters of our parasitical tourism industry. They look at Bhoocha-Oom, and they shake in fear of a Hong Kong where landlords can no longer raise rents incessantly and drive more and more locally-oriented stores and restaurants out of business, and where our sidewalks and public transport are no longer clogged full of visitors.

However, Areepong Bhoocha-Oom’s noble intentions may not have as great an impact as right-thinking people would like. Thailand is several hours’ travel-time farther away than Hong Kong from most parts of China. The kingdom will continue to impose a 6% or so sales tax on everything. The range of tatty designer-label tripe on offer is, by some accounts, narrower down there. Mollycoddled local producers of native luxury junk fear competition from the faux-Italian and French stuff. Thai Airways celebrated the announcement by skidding off the runway at Bangkok with a plane full of Guangzhou-ites, who will no doubt now be warning their compatriots about the dangers of a trip to Thailand. And then there’s Bangkok itself – a city whose spiritual and aesthetic charms may be less obvious to materialistic Mainlanders than its traffic jams, rancid canals and occasional cheerful Southeast Asian inefficiency.

We shall have to wait and see. Think positive. A cut in Thai import duties certainly can’t do any harm. If we see a noticeable drop in Mainland shoppers – maybe even an end to the spread of inane brands like the recently arrived and thoroughly wretched-sounding ‘Paul & Shark- Yachting’ – there can be no doubt about it: a Gold Bauhinia Star for our rescuer and friend, Areepong Bhoocha-Oom.

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15 Responses to Bhoocha-Oom to the rescue

  1. Bela Biker says:

    It’s not just handbags and designer clothes. My idea of permanent face whitening masks has yet to be embraced in the IFC mall but I feel our time is now. Then we can begin to close all the shops and do away with dehumanization in at least one key Hong Kong location.

    You are so optimistic at odd moments which is why we love you. When the designer tat stores close they will not be replaced by cafes, human eateries and bookstores but by boutique hotels. We stand by Criswell who has predicted that by 2030, 90% of Hong Kong people will be living in tents and the other ten percent in highly fortified boutique hotels. Ban boutique hotels now. It’s just a dodge to hang on to property and charge people above mortgage rates for property they will never own.

    Capitalists are evil. Sometimes I think you are too sweet and naive to handle their insidious contortions.

  2. Luxury Brand Buyer says:

    A mainland friend who recently returned from her first trip to Switzerland was both shocked and astonished to find that all luxury brand-name items ( including – to her still greater astonishment : Swiss-made watches !) were even more expensive in Switzerland than in Beijing.

    Thus HK remains her first and only choice for such shopping. The air fare ( via SZ) and budget-locust-hotel costs in HK are paid for by the savings on just the first hour’s shopping, and after that it’s savings all the way home.

    This same Beijing lady also commented that many of the brand-name shops in big tourist centers like Interlaken and Zurich were half-staffed by Chinese in an effort to drum up trade, but even so she rarely saw anyone, neither Chinese, Asian or Western, buy anything. She therefore concluded that the reason HK luxury brand shops can remain so competitive despite the sky-high rents is that their sales turnover is so high.

    Thus as long as there is no tax on luxury brands in HK it becomes a vicious circle : the more “locust” Chinese visitors come, the more competitive HK becomes and thus even more locusts come.

    Seems we need a FS with the balls of Bhoocha-Oom.

  3. Mjrelje says:

    Perhaps this is Yingluck’s idea so she can save on her next handbag.

  4. The Regulator says:

    “V-CITY” in Tuen Mun, Kwok Bros.’ latest mall, is aimed entirely at mainland Chinese who are within 20 minutes of it and it works.

  5. Sir Crispin says:

    Praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster if he shall bring this to pass and deliver us.

  6. Blaise Pascal says:

    Il faut acheter pour vivre et non pas vivre pour acheter.

  7. Real Scot Player says:

    Anything to get rid of these locusts.

    They’re almost as bad as the Brit backpackers who swarmed Hong Kong in the 1990s beforethe handover.

  8. Bela PM says:

    Areepong Bhoocha-Oom

    anagrams to

    ‘Boo! Hoorah! Mega ponce.’

    I thought you should be told.

  9. Andanotherthing says:

    Boom cha, cha – Boom cha,cha – has a ring to it. Very appropriate for Bangkok, the aptly named city. Does he do dripping air conditioners by any chance?

    @RSP nothing is quite as bad as Brit backpackers!

  10. Gumshoe says:

    The video game shop, noodle shop, and stationary store near me have all been replaced by a Rolex retailer, Chow Sang Sang, and a luxury Chinese medicine shop. This is one war I can get behind. Viva Bhoocha-Oom!

  11. reductio says:

    Used to have a Mannings, a cheapo game/CD shop, a decent coffee house and a supermarket all within two minutes walk. These have been replaced by a watch shop, a watch shop, a spa, and a lukshery goods shop. My company’s rents are insane. I’m for building a big Statue of Liberty just on the border (sorry boundary) at Lo Wu. Instead of holding a torch she’s bent over with her ass to China. Because HK is sure being shafted by the mainland.

  12. ( . ) ( . ) says:

    I don’t care at all for the locusts but neither do I care for the ‘local’ shopkeepers who have screwed me over the years or called me ‘gwai lo’ behind my back, thinking I didn’t ‘sik gong’.

    @reductio
    Reminds me of my first divorce: she got the goldmine and I got the shaft.

  13. Bangkok Lurker says:

    Please note that, in Thailand, when an aircraft skids off the runway, an engine catches fire and the nose gear collapses, with 14 persons injured, it’s not a “plane crash”, it’s a “landing incident”.

    http://www.mcot.net/site/content?id=522ece1b150ba06c6000002f

  14. Mongkok Mzungu says:

    @reductio
    If you build it, they will come.

  15. If you drive south from Vancouver across the US border, the first thing you come to is a mega mall with five department stores and hundreds of other shops. The clientele is almost entirely Canadian, drawn by the lower sales taxes in the US. Why don’t we build a few of those along our border, and then mainland shoppers won’t need to bother the rest of Hong Kong?

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