Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 March, 2010, 12:00am

Container houses could be answer to our housing woes

It's probably not too far from the truth to say people in Hong Kong live in shoeboxes. It's a well-known fact that we have an average living space of 12 square metres per person - one of the smallest in the world, compared with a Shenzhen resident's 19 square metres, which isn't that much better either.

We hear some ingenious Shenzhen residents have resorted to living in a different kind of box accommodation to cope with skyrocketing house prices.

Shipping containers converted into homes have sprung up everywhere in the city as an affordable alternative. A standard 6 metre by 3m container costs six yuan (HK$6.81) to rent per day and to own one will set you back 10,000 yuan.

We have quite a few shipping containers piling up in the New Territories. Maybe someone in the Housing Department could put them to better use.

Developers get a hurry up

The government has finally mustered up enough courage to stop developers from misleading the public with show flats after all these years. Officials are planning to introduce guidelines to administer the sale of properties involving show units.

In future, developers will be forbidden to use features such as see-through 'walls', miniature furniture and a flat layout without doors to create an optical illusion in which the unit appears larger.

But, apparently the new rules will not prevent the widespread malpractice of skipping floor numbers to omit those that are considered unlucky in Cantonese culture.

A task force is to be set up to work out solutions to this and other problems related to property sales.

Here is one inexpensive solution: Just hand out simple number tables to developers. But, learning to count numbers properly can be a bit tedious.

In defence of cows

Every now and then, when we hear claims that cow 'emissions' are a major source of greenhouse gases causing climate change, there will be counter arguments to defend flatulent cattle.

A UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report says that livestock 'emissions' are no more damaging to the planet than carbon dioxide from cars.

Figures from international organisations, including the United Nations, show that cows and livestock are responsible for about 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, while the transport industry is responsible for 13 per cent.

But, the oil industry, various oil-dependent sectors, as well as air, sea and road transportation and carmakers are accountable for 82 per cent of emissions.

So, next time when top executives of oil companies and major carmakers sink their teeth into some juicy beef tenderloin steaks, they shouldn't rejoice, thinking they can simply blame the cows.

The world's 1.5 billion cattle are not 100 per cent guilty because they are supporting around one billion poor people whose livelihoods depend on livestock production.

The UN organisation suggests that rather than blaming cows and livestock, urgent investment, research effort and vigorous governance are required to ensure that the sector responds to a growing demand in a more sustainable way.

Recruiters thinking global

Ambition, a leading recruitment firm, yesterday launched a career blog to attract international talent for specialist sectors such as banking and financial services, accounting and finance.

The digital marketing initiative is prompted by a growing concern about skills shortages in Hong Kong and the region. Managing director Guy Day says: 'Skills shortages will become more acute in Asia over the next one to two years. With the launch of our new career blog, in addition to building closer ties with locally based candidates, it will create opportunities for us to reach international candidates who are willing to relocate to Hong Kong or Singapore.'

We seem to have finally realised that wholesale localisation is a bad thing for Hong Kong. After all, an international financial centre cannot just be made up of local talent only.

Farewell to Huang Leih-ho

Lai See would like to pay tribute to Huang Leih-ho, founder of Taiwan's instant-noodle maker Wei Chuan Foods Corporation, who passed away on Monday, at the age of 100. Huang was active in charity work for many years after retirement.

A major business force in Taiwan since 1953, Wei Chuan is a highly diversified group involved in much more than food manufacturing. Its business interests include automobile distribution, electric and home appliance sales, computer services and retailing.