Lai See

Murray Building units not for sale: Cheung Kong please note

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 5:20am

In its preparations for selling off the Murray Building as a hotel, the government appears to have gone out of its way to make the point that there is no chance of developers being able to redevelop the site and then sell off individual units.

This is, it will be recalled, what Cheung Kong tried to do by setting up a scheme to sell off 360 units at the Apex Horizon Hotel in Kwai Chung, as a way of avoiding the payment of the new stamp duty.

Clause 30 of the tender documents notes that the purchaser shall not "assign, mortgage, charge, underlet, part with possession of or otherwise dispose of the lot or any part thereof or any interest therein or any building or part of any building thereon, or grant any licence or right whatsoever to use or occupy or to have possession of the lot or any part thereof or any building or part of any building thereon, whether by way of direct or indirect reservation, the grant of any right of first refusal, option or any other method, arrangement or document of any description, or enter into any agreement so to do."

There is more of this, but you get the idea. Though strangely, there are certain conditions under which the site can be used for two or more hotels.


Why Occupy Central?

Edward Chin is an unusual man. Aside from owning a Harley-Davidson motorbike, which he uses to ride for charity, he runs a hedge fund. But there is more. He is one of what the local Chinese press refer to as one of the 10 martyrs of the Occupy Central Movement started by Benny Tai Yiu-ting.

It is unusual for finance types to get involved with non-mainstream political groups. Occupy Central aims to achieve universal suffrage by one person, one vote in Hong Kong. But Chin says there is more to it than just this one issue. He says it is an important counter to what he sees as increasing "mainlandisation" in Hong Kong and the undermining of the rule of law.

Chin returned to Hong Kong in 2000 after spending many years in North America. "In those days people from the mainland were cautious about admitting they were members of the Communist Party." Nowadays he encounters people in the finance industry who are quite open about being party members. The implication, Chin says is, "I'm a party member - you'd better listen to me".

He says while things are obviously not perfect in Hong Kong there are rules and regulations for the way things are done, say, in the finance industry. But, Chin says, there are increasing whispers in the industry where people are being asked to find a way of cutting corners and to comply less with the rules than they used to. He argues that for many years there has more or less been a level playing field within the finance industry but he thinks this is changing as those thought to have "guanxi" - the right connections within the mainland - get preferential treatment and advancement at the expense of their Hong Kong counterparts.

Chin believes that universal suffrage through one person, one vote will help to counter this tendency: "Occupy Central is not jut about one man, one vote. It's also about establishing a more just and fairer society where all can benefit from a level playing field."


High flyer joins Swire

The former Singapore government minister Raymond Lim Siang Keat has been appointed a non-executive director of Swire Properties. Lim held a number of ministerial posts between 2001 to May 2011, which included foreign affairs, trade and industry, entrepreneurship, finance and transport. He is still a member of the Singapore Parliament.

He also has a number of other directorships including Hong Leong Finance and Raffles Medical Group, companies listed on the Singapore stock exchange. Lim is a director of Insurance Australia Group, a company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. He is chairman of APS Asset Management, and a director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corp and Investec Singapore Aviation Management.

He is no slouch academically. He was a Rhodes scholar and has degrees from the universities of Adelaide, Oxford and Cambridge. He is also no stranger to Swire, since he has been a senior adviser to John Swire & Sons since November 2011.