Show some compassion towards real buyers
I read Francis Kong's letter, titled 'Welcoming Li Ka-shing's timely warning' (South China Morning Post, January 11), with delight and I admire his love for Hong Kong.
I, too, believe that those speculators who live by the sword should die by the sword. However, Mr Kong appears to give me the impression that most of the people who bought flats in early 1997, when the market was at its zenith, were speculators. I am sure that this is not the case as speculators only make up a very small proportion of the property market. Having a roof over your head is a basic necessity and most of the buyers at the time must have been genuine users.
I can understand why a lot of people bought into the market at the time. Worrying if they will ever be able to keep up with the ever-rising property prices, a lot of buyers just bit their lips and took the plunge. Had these buyers taken action two or three years earlier, their worries would have been vindicated. Unfortunately, the Asian financial crisis struck, wiping out their deposits and locking them in negative equity.
It is easy, in hindsight, to criticise them for the imprudence of 'buying at the top'. However, who can tell when the market has peaked? Just take a look at Wall Street. Experts have been predicting a fall for the past two years yet it reached another all-time high last week! The 30 per cent deposits required to secure the flats are not small sums of money. To most of us they are our life savings. On top of losing their savings, defaulters live in constant fear of being asked to come up with yet more money to settle their negative equities.
I also support the Democratic Party on this issue. It is time the genuine defaulters be given concrete guarantees that they will be released from their negative equities and be allowed to get on with their lives.
A society can survive without huge profit margins, but it will not survive without compassion and understanding.
ANDY YU Birmingham, UK