Public Eye

Opinion: Greed builds with another Hong Kong hotel to fall

With more offices planned, Michael Chugani says developers don’t lose even a night’s sleep by squeezing whatever they can from you

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, 10:18pm

Let’s get this straight. A property investment firm wants to demolish its 29-storey Causeway Bay hotel, which is just eight years old, to make way for another office tower. How much rubble does a 29-storey building create? Never mind, our landfills are crying out for more stuff.

How much pollution does the razing of a skyscraper cause? Never mind, our pristine air can do with a bit of dust. How much noise does the wrecking of a high-rise and the construction of its replacement cause? Never mind, Hong Kong is too quiet.

In pictures: a potted history of Causeway Bay, ever-changing heart of Hong Kong

I live on a historic lane overlooking the old Central Police Station compound which the Jockey Club is preserving as a heritage site. My landlord wants everybody out so he can replace his 19-storey building with a bigger one. There goes the lane’s historical feel but never mind, Hong Kong is replete with historic areas.

What’s the big deal anyway that relatively new buildings are being razed for motives of greed with Town Planning Board blessing? The 33-storey Furama Hotel with its famous top-floor revolving restaurant on Connaught Road Central was razed in 2001 to make way for a 39-storey office block. Its next-door neighbour, the high-rise Ritz-Carlton hotel, was snuffed out in 2008 after just 15 years of life. Yet another office tower rose from its rubble.

Greed is the name of the game here ... Our property developers have been playing it for years

Where I lived in the US, bar owners wanted to extend the nightlife district closer to a residential area. The Town Council gave them the finger, making clear the quality of life for residents mattered more than business. Quality of life? Do our town planning, liquor licensing and other boards even know the meaning of that?

Greed is the name of the game here. Learn how to play it young. Our property developers have been playing it for years. That’s why they’re among the world’s richest people. Our landlords, retailers who sucker mainlanders, and even taxi drivers who overcharge are also in on the game.

Property developers don’t lose even a night’s sleep by squeezing whatever they can from you. Neither do landlords who double your rent. There’s always another sucker if you refuse. This is our new Lion Rock spirit. Don’t live by your conscience or morals. You’ll end up in a slum subdivided flat.