Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 10:39pm

Property rush was such a sickening display of greed

BIO

Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts TVB’s Straight Talk show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.
 

Pure greed, that's what we saw last Friday. Property tycoons and speculators fed on one another's greed. It was sickening to watch. At 6pm the government announced more measures to cool a property market driven to insanity by the combined greed of tycoons and mainland and local speculators. In minutes, estate agents were warning buyers they had six hours before the crackdown kicked in. Mainlanders streamed across the border. Local speculators dashed from dinner tables. The tycoons rushed flats onto the market ahead of time. They even opened make-do sales offices for the frenzied buyers. Is this the kind of greed-driven society we want? Where else in the world would you see such a disgusting spectacle? Save the nonsense about genuine buyers wanting to beat the new measures. If you were a genuine buyer, wouldn't it be smarter to wait until the market cooled? Pay no heed to moaning mainlanders claiming to be genuine buyers who wanted to avoid the 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers. If you don't live here, why rush to buy a flat, except for speculation? But let's save most of our disgust for the tycoons. Rushing flats onto the market showed yet again they care little about making homes affordable for Hongkongers. The decent thing would have been to refrain from using those six hours to fatten their wallets. Is there no point at which their greed gives way to their conscience?

Helping elderly is true test of a caring society

To means-test or not to means-test? That is not the question. Well, it is but it shouldn't be. Aren't we all losing the plot here? Surely, the larger question is not whether all elderly people, or only those in real need, should qualify for a new HK$2,200 old age allowance. Of course those who don't need it should be screened out by an assets test. But try knocking that no-brainer into our thick-skulled populist politicians. The bigger question is why we have 400,000 elderly people in real need of HK$2,200 a month. That's over 5 per cent of the population. Why is it that, as one of the world's wealthiest cities, we still have over 5 per cent of the population so old and poor that they need urgent help? Surely, that is the question.

Real issue concerning burgled bureaucrats

Countless times we've told you our bureaucrats are overpaid. But how overpaid are they? Well, look at the burglary story last week. We don't mean the measly HK$20,000 in cash and valuables taken from the home of permanent development secretary Thomas Chow Tat-ming and his wife Elizabeth Tse Man-yee, permanent secretary for financial services and the treasury. We're talking about where this couple lives - a three-storey house in Deep Water Bay - one of Hong Kong's priciest neighbourhoods. A big part of Chow's job is to deal with caged homes and subdivided flats. Can a bureaucrat living in splendour understand the squalor of caged homes? Perhaps that is best answered by the thousands who have been holed up in such squalor for decades.

Why can't we have a fake beach … in Central?

Unfair, that's what Public Eye says. We live in Central and there's not a single fake beach in sight. Why is the government building one in Tai Po just because residents there want it? All of us in Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay have only towering skyscrapers. We deserve a fake beach, too. An ideal spot would be the Tamar government headquarters. If bureaucrats can demolish heritage sites such as the Star Ferry Pier and Queen's Pier for a coastal highway, they can demolish their palatial headquarters for a fake beach.

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