Verb – ‘…typically to separate out sediment’

Sesame Street today was brought to you by the word ‘decant’, in the sense of urban planning, ethnic-cleansing or forced migration – as in ‘the decanting of Yau Tsim Mong’. I recall the word being used a few weeks ago by the Our Hong Kong Foundation folks pushing the Lantau mega-reclamation proposal.

The way they put it, it makes sense to have a large-scale ‘decanting’ of residents of older neighbourhoods approaching the end of their useful life (the buildings’ useful lives, that is, not the residents’ – or then again maybe not, ha ha). Much better than itsy-bitsy one-block-at-a-time redevelopment, because you can scrub everything for miles around and create a lovely big holistically-designed futuristic urban paradise, with trees, open-air cafes, flying cars, etc.

The linked comment above reflects a suspicion that the developers want the HK$500 billion Lantau metropolis as a way to shovel the poorer residents out in order to convert old downtown districts into sprawling luxury apartments. The reason we haven’t heard more about this is that the rest of us just assume it’s the case and don’t bother with wishy-washy suspicions stuff.

That said, a 20-year strategy for the mega-gentrification of the older core urban areas would rest on some bold forecasts –  essentially that the huge historic 1980s-2010s uplift in Hong Kong real-estate values will continue on a straight line for decades more. Yet the trends for China’s economic growth and demographics, and for Hong Kong’s distinctive advantages, if anything point the other way.

If our 92-year-old property tycoons are thinking this long-term about the high-margin ‘luxury’ apartment market, they might prefer a continued tight supply of new land to a situation where half of Kowloon is emptied and (horror!) they might have to compete to sell a commodity product. Of course, they also control much of the construction-supplies and sub-contracting cartels, so they have plenty of other reasons to welcome the Lantau mega-reclamation project.

To repeat: such a massive diversion of Hong Kong’s fiscal reserves comes down to Beijing. If the CCP has its own reasons to ‘decant’ Hong Kong’s wealth this way, the half-trillion-dollar pile of dirt will happen. Otherwise not.

The Decanting of Yau Tsim Mong – good title for an extremely gory horror movie.

I declare the weekend open with a farewell – Victor Mallet has left the building – and a heart-warming ray of sunshine in the form of Prada shares falling 10.5%.



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10 Responses to Verb – ‘…typically to separate out sediment’

  1. Stanley Lieber says:

    The decanted ones will need to be curated first.

  2. Knownot says:


    Mrs Lam, I look around and see
    What some may grandly call the legacy
    Of you and of your predecessors too:
    So marvellous, so dubious, so new.

    I see a railway which I don’t think I need
    Going north at not a very high speed.
    Perhaps it will make money. I don’t know how soon.
    There were already trains that went from Kowloon.

    I see a bridge that strides across the ‘Bay’
    But who is going to use it anyway?
    Who benefits? It certainly isn’t my boon.
    And did the structure hold up in the typhoon?

    I see the Shatin-Central railway link;
    Here substandard, there it starts to sink.
    They’re looking forward to it on the Eastrail
    But see delay and doubt on an increased scale.

    Now adding to this crazy situation
    You’re going to build a massive reclamation.
    Why are you doing it? Are you going to fess up?
    In future, who will have to clear the mess up?

  3. Oberscharffuehrer Docta G says:

    Grufties ‘raus!

    Not you of course. You’re no coffin dodger. Oh yes.

    For a moment I thought it might be interesting. But it’s your 987,543 rd piece about property.


    More disturbing are the adverts everywhere for green funerals in gardens of remembrance. Presumably they do the incineration for free.

    Translate everything into German if you want to know what Government is really thinking and doing. It’s an interesting thing to do. After all, Arbeit macht frei! In this case it’s “Altersumsiedlung nach Osten” – resettlement to the East. Special treatment, naturally.

  4. pd says:

    On the previous record, prices double more or less; so the 500 bn will likely become a round 1 tr.

  5. Big Al says:

    The ELM (it already has its own acronym), if the damn thing ever gets built – and I have my doubts – will, in the end, become a holding pen into which anyone who does not think “correctly” (i.e. is not pro-Beijing) will ultimately find themselves relocated. The equivalent to Nauru for Australia. Or Alcatraz. With sufficiently high seawalls to combat future sea level rises, the population imprisoned there will be truly out of sight of the Central Government Offices and certainly out of mind for the Liaison Office. Problem solved!

  6. A Poor Man says:

    If local property prices fall by just 10% this may no longer be an issue. The last time it happened 7 or 8 years ago the government couldn’t sell all of the HOS flats it put up for sale. Many of the people who get on the HOS waiting list (like my brother in law) are just looking for a good real estate investment opportunity.

    The government should only build rental apartments so people in need (like a cousin and his family) can move out of their overpriced illegally subdivided private market rental apartments.

  7. Joe Blow says:

    ELM = an isolated real estate development for decanted undesirables on the fringes of Lantau.

    Urrmmm…can’t we just move them all to Discovery Bay, since it has already been built.

  8. Knownot says:

    “Why are you doing it? Are you going to fess up?”

    “Such a massive diversion of Hong Kong’s fiscal reserves comes down to Beijing. If the CCP has its own reasons to ‘decant’ Hong Kong’s wealth this way, the half-trillion-dollar pile of dirt will happen.”

    The reclamation is, perhaps, a Belt and Road project – one of the best, because no loan is required and the client, the HK SAR, can certainly pay its bills.

  9. @Knownot – we Belt up while all our money is on the Road to Beijing…

  10. Guest says:

    “Many of the people who get on the HOS waiting list (like my brother in law) are just looking for a good real estate investment opportunity.”

    And therein lies the problem.

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