Greedy landlords are strangling hard-working small entrepreneurs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 April, 2012, 12:00am


In the past, if entrepreneurs put their hearts and souls into their businesses, they would, more often than not, be rewarded for their hard work.

When it came time to expand, they would either move locations or acquire neighbouring units. Consequently, this mode of development culminated in thriving businesses. This is what is meant by success through diligence.

Now, entrepreneurs put at least as much effort into their businesses, and yet many are doomed to failure. What is the reason for this? The answer is simple: rent is astronomically high. It is becoming common practice for land owners to gouge their tenants for all they are worth.

For example, there used to be a cafe near my office, run by a hard-working family. They worked from 5am to 10pm daily, and their only time off was a three-day holiday during the Lunar New Year. Owing to the soaring rent, they simply could not keep up and were forced to end their lifelong careers without warning.

What makes this case disheartening is not that the family remains unemployed to this day but that their case is just the tip of the iceberg. We seem to be living in an era of insecurity.

Why does the government not do something about this? It is common knowledge that the selection process for top positions in government is rigorous. Why is this government, made up of so many talented individuals, unable to address this heinous maltreatment of small businesses?

Who should be culpable for small businesses being exploited? Should we blame the operators of small businesses for not working even harder? Should we blame the government for not stepping in? Or should we blame land owners who put profit on a golden pedestal to which they sacrifice potentially successful businesspeople?

Ho Kam-tong, Yuen Long