Today’s business news: buy property, now

There I was just the other day, even-handedly conceding that the South China Morning Post – unlike many other local newspapers – doesn’t over-obviously give property tycoons ‘free advertising for their latest rip-off property development’. And what does it do today but splash a big story on the front page of the business section presenting Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong boss Justin Chiu’s ‘worst over for property market’ hogwash as gospel? Then again, I did say just the day before that we could expect the SCMP’s report on Cheung Kong Infrastructure’s minuscule tax bills to be followed by ‘some highly flattering stories about Cheung Kong and Hutchison before long’. The secret to soothsaying: cover all angles.

Yesterday was ‘Talk Up Property Prices Day’. The Standard has a similar story about a ‘splurge’, no less, focused on Henderson Land’s Thomas Lam, who talks of thousands rushing to buy the developer’s latest batch of overpriced rabbit hutches, even though transaction numbers on planet Earth show a market that has dried up.

People in the media express dismay at their industry’s weakening credibility among the Hong Kong public. But what do they expect when they churn out deliberately biased reports designed to lure consumers into making probably-stupid multi-million-dollar property purchases? There was a time when readers wouldn’t have questioned it too much. But not now. This is one part of cartelization and monopoly where there’s no lack of transparency: it’s pretty clear when tycoon Charles Ho has called up his Sing Tao/Standard editors and told them to boost Li Shau-kee’s latest residential project, or when the Kuoks at the SCMP have demanded a front-page bit of groveling to atone for a piece that incurred (or risked incurring) the displeasure of Li Ka-shing.

Look at the readers’ comments below the on-line SCMP story (‘article is pure PR garbage’) and it’s obvious that people aren’t taken in. But they’re not supposed to be. Like much advertising and PR, this piffle is designed to please the proprietor who ordered it, not to persuade or convince the bemused public. It’s just gratuitous inter-tycoon shoe-shining, in which innocent newspaper readers are forced to be witnesses. When the big tycoons bought up most of Hong Kong’s newspapers, we thought it was so they could kowtow to Beijing in print; it’s turned out to be even more putrid and nauseating than that. If you have a sick-bag handy, look at this little Standard item in which (essentially) Charles Ho pisses on the Kuoks for being mean to Li Ka-shing. Eewww…

As a bit of light relief: who can fail to notice the uncanny likeness between Cheung Kong boss Chiu (left) and Turkmenistan’s late President for Life and ultra-propagandist Saparmurat Niyazov (right)?



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11 Responses to Today’s business news: buy property, now

  1. gweiloeye says:

    And here we are being told that Hkers are highly educated people with a slew of Uni degress flowing out of every orifice, and yet we read all about how they are just dumb sheep that listen to spivs and shyters.

    And in other news from the subStandard – Regna Ip opes her mouth again – re the PLA:
    “They have been dedicated to defending Hong Kong”

    Um Regina, defend against what precicely?
    Someone needs to remind her that the PLA is the armed forces of the communist party – not China. So let’s hope we never see them “defending” anything in Hong Kong – watch out Occupy Central.

  2. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    “Like much advertising and PR, this piffle is designed to please the proprietor who ordered it, not to persuade or convince the bemused public.”

    It betrays the tycoons views of the average Mr and Mrs Ho as being sheep in a herd, easily spooked into stampeding in irrational directions, whether it be to rush for property or free Hello Kitty gifts.

    That’s a view not too dissimilar from some of my fellows commenters, although I don’t claim any moral highground myself.

  3. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    “They have been dedicated to defending Hong Kong”

    Certainly not defending Hong Kong against US seamen of all stains, as I’ve had the misfortune of witnessing during occasional wanderings near Wanchai during US naval visits.

  4. Stephen says:

    I get quite nostalgic when you do a critique of the Pro-China Morning Post. I used to be an avid reader but the self-censorship and rah rah China / Tycoon stories just got too nauseating to take so I have avoided for several years and I see it hasn’t changed.

    Justin Chiu is a self-interested cock and fortunately the masses are beginning to see these fairy stories for what they are. Cock Justin and his ilk think declining prices from the ludicrous HKD22,514 per square foot in Tin Hau is bad – it’s not – and apartment prices will continue to fall this year and that will be good.

  5. Sid says:

    Stephen, And the $22.5 K was already a 16% reduction…

    The more rubbish like this appears, the greater the inevitable fall — and, hopefully, the more vindictive the blame.

  6. Headache says:

    You can almost see Chiu imagining himself being showered with hundred dollar notes. Flung turds would be more appropriate.

  7. PCC says:

    Actually, Cock Justin and his ilk see declining prices from the ludicrous HKD22,514 per square foot in Tin Hau as a “buying opportunity”! Hurry! Hurry! While supplies last!

  8. maugrim says:

    It will be popcorn time soon. US interest rates will inevitably rise along the same time Mainland liquidity issues begin to fester just a little more.

  9. Ex Tax Payer says:

    I totally fail to understand why first time buyers ( assuming they are first time buyers ) go for these ridiculously expensive new developments – unless it’s just because they are “new”.

    One can buy a decent 10 + year old flat ( certainly a 20- year old flat) in exactly the same areas at under $10,000 psf . Admittedly one will not get such a sexy marble lobby and a sports club which no-one ever uses . And admittedly – and more important- one will have have to spend $100 – 200 psf to completely redecorate from scratch , but at least that way one gets exactly the flat design / color scheme/ kitchen fittings etc that one wants . And according to my first hand experience at least some ( maybe most) modern developments use very shoddy interior design materials and fittings. By the time a block is 10 -20 years old all the shoddy common facilities ( water, drainage etc) have been replaced with better quality stuff.

    And 100 – 200 psf is a helluva lot less than the difference between $22,514 psf ( at 16% discount .. wow !) and $10,000 psf.

    I therefore conclude ( very sincerely) that the vast majority of buyers of these modern developments like the Avenue and the Diva are indeed total and utter idiots.

    So perhaps it’s not surprising that they swallow Chiu’s idiotic bullshit, and thus it’s not surprising that Chiu is paid to speak such utter idiotic bullshit, and so we should perhaps not be too hard on the guy. After all, he’s only another LKS poodle.

  10. Dr Doo-me-a-little says:

    Suppose your name is “Raymond Wong”. You are a 30 y.o. with an MBA, working in an accounting department and still living with your parents. You have been wooing and dating YoYo for the past 7 years. During those 7 years you have spent an insane amount of money on designer handbags, sunglasses and over-priced sushi dinners in return for very little nookie, because YoYo is always “tired”, except when she needs a new handbag.

    You are fed up.

    Then you see the sales brochure for the “Bella Italia del Grande Deluxe” development in Fanling. 869 s.f (gross) of deluxe quality, VIP, gold-card, privileged living @ $ 9,600,000.-.

    What do you do ? You take out the calculator, and figure that if you make it to senior-assistant manager in about 12 years, you will earn so much (hopefully) while YoYo, as a dental assistant, will save so much in the run up, and together you will have just enough for the downpayment plus the monthly, and if prices keep increasing as they have been during the past 15 years, then, yes, you will enjoy marital bliss in your own “castle” for ever and ever……so let’s do it ! Another sale to the desperate and stupid.

  11. Ex Tax Payer says:

    On this subject it’s worth reading Tom Holland in Tuesday’s SCMP ( for those who still deign to read the SCMP).

    I hope the link below works

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