Era of 'exorbitant profits' is over, developer tells peers
Colleen Lee, Peter So and Tanna Chong
Property developers will have to wean themselves off 'exorbitant profits' and get used to 'stable land prices' under chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying's administration, Hang Lung Properties boss Ronnie Chan Chichung warned yesterday.
Chan was a core supporter of Leung in last month's poll - unlike most big developers, who favoured Leung's rival Henry Tang Ying-yen.
'I believe he will adopt an appropriate pace in easing land prices,' Chan told a seminar yesterday. 'I personally think that Hong Kong's land prices will see stable growth. Property developers will be able to make money but might not make exorbitant profits. They have already reaped profits for decades.
'No one can [get Leung do something] by bribing [or threatening] him ... It is understandable that some big businessmen don't like him,' Chan said at the Hong Kong Development Forum, of which he was convenor.
He also defended the target of building 85,000 flats a year set by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa in 1997. The policy, backed by Leung, became a campaign issue after Tang said it had led to a collapse in property prices. 'It was not the fault of Mr Tung, but those who demanded Mr Tung press ahead with the 85,000 [flats] policy [despite the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis],' he said.
Earlier, Wong Chack-kie, assistant director of Chinese University's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, said he would consider joining the government's Central Policy Unit if invited to do so by Leung, but maintained that he had yet to be offered any post.
Wan Chai district councillor Yolanda Ng Yuen-ting, a Leung supporter who has also been tipped for the new cabinet, said she had not been offered any position, but would consider any offer that allowed her to serve society in a 'better and more extensive way'.
Meanwhile, in a new poll, twice as many respondents said they approved of Leung's performance than of Tsang's.
The poll of 1,006 people conducted by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme between April 2 and April 10 found the approval rate for Leung stood at 46 per cent, while Tsang was on just 23 per cent. Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, tipped as the next chief secretary, was rated the most popular minister with 74 per cent approval.
Leung yesterday continued his meetings with lawmakers, holding separate discussions with members of Economic Synergy and the Professional Forum.
Speaking after the hour-long meeting with Leung, Economic Synergy lawmaker and Tang supporter Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung said he had warned Leung of the dangers of taking a populist approach.
Professional Forum lawmakers including Dr Raymond Ho Chung-tai said they had called on the next leader to explore speedier ways to increase land supply, improve the West Kowloon harbourfront development and enhance co-ordination among departments.