Lai See

Dong Tao says Hong Kong's property market has gone crazy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2012, 2:31am

Hong Kong's property market has reached the tipping point, according to Credit Suisse's Tao Dong.

The chief regional economist for Asia ex-Japan explains that he recently completed the sale of a Hong Kong property. What triggered his decision to sell was a visit to Cyberport to watch a movie. This treat was followed by a meal at a Taiwanese restaurant he frequents. So, it was with some disappointment and surprise that he learnt it was closing down, since it appeared to be doing a good business.

The reason was a whopping increase in rent that is now becoming all too familiar all over Hong Kong. In this case, the proposed increase was from HK$60,000 to HK$220,000.

"I think the Hong Kong property market has entered a crazy phase," Tao said. He took this as a warning sign and decided to sell. "The real Hong Kong is disappearing, the beef noodles, the pineapple buns, because of this property craziness."


Testing positive for plagiarism

The blog Beijing Cream carried an intriguing headline on its site recently: "Global Times Olympics journalist tests positive for plagiarism." It then went on to relate the sad tale of a senior journalist at the Global Times, which is owned by the People's Daily, who was sent to cover the London Olympics. It transpires that much of what she wrote was plagiarised or made up and included interviews with people with dubious sounding names.

There was one interview, for example, with an Indian undergraduate called Jaime Gornsztejn. Her downfall was triggered by what she claimed was an exclusive interview with London mayor Boris Johnson. There were doubts at the newspaper over some of his remarks and how her English veered from native quality to something less so. Some of the quotes were checked on Google and up popped an article Johnson had written for the Daily Telegraph. She no longer works with Global Times.


Hyperbole rolls on

A Rolls is a Rolls is a Rolls, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein. That is to say, although the car has changed since first produced in 1904 it remains an icon, as they like to say at Rolls, for distinctive ultra luxury cars.

When introducing the new Phantom Series II to the press yesterday, Paul Harris, the regional director, Asia-Pacific for Rolls-Royce, was nothing less than exuberant. The Phantom had "sparked a Rolls-Royce renaissance", we were told. It had "reclaimed the pinnacles of automotive luxury refinement". And opening the rhetorical throttle, he added: "It goes beyond its primary role as a car and becomes to many a work of art, a fine piece of jewellery or a rare collectible object of desire".

It almost seems a shame to drive such an objet d'art. One of its many refinements include doors "which house Teflon-coated umbrellas to provide the grandest form of disembarkation from any motor car, whatever the weather". All this - car, jewellery, work of art, collectible - however you regard it, can be had for HK$9.9 million.


Airport saga continues

Readers may be familiar with the continuing struggle between green non-governmental groups and the Airport Authority over conducting a social return on investment (SROI) study on the proposed third runway.

The authority steadfastly resisted the move, even after it was urged to conduct one by the Legislative Council's environmental panel. The green groups were therefore stunned when the authority on September 19 issued a press release headlined "Airport Authority goes extra mile to appraise impact of planned three-runway system".

The green groups felt this was disingenuous since the authority has not agreed as such to conduct an SROI. It issued its own response recently, arguing that the authority "still has many more miles to go to establish itself as a socially responsible airport". It reiterates its key claim that the authority has "remained reluctant to commit to the environmental group's key demands for a social and environmental cost assessment". It also warns that unless it does agree it will not participate in technical briefing groups organised as part of the environmental impact assessment process.

All this is proving very awkward for the authority since recently announcing its objective of becoming the greenest airport in the world.


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