Hong Kong has scored another world first, with a plot of land on The Peak selling for HK$1.8 billion, or HK$42,196 per square foot of developable floor area. The price fetched at Tuesday's government auction surpassed - on a cost-per-square-foot basis - that of the choicest pieces of real estate in New York and London. But this does not mean the sale is entirely a cause for celebration. The price paid is a striking example of how much the super-rich are prepared to spend to set up home here. It says something positive about Hong Kong's attractiveness. This can be seen as a welcome antidote to all the talk in recent times of our city losing its edge. However, though the price paid is staggering, the sale will not have an impact on the non-luxury property market. Indeed, it is an indication that the gap has widened between the top end of the market and the bottom - and that is worrying. Hong Kong is known to be a city of extremes. But even those who believe in the so-called trickle-down theory should be concerned that the wealth of those at the top is not filtering down fast enough to benefit people who are struggling to make a decent living. While the post-1997 recession is behind us and incomes have climbed slowly in the past few years, figures compiled by the Census and Statistics Department show that the salaries of most white-collar workers have only just returned to, or have slightly exceeded, 1997 levels. For some jobs with a low skills content, such as shop assistant and sales clerk, wages are still below what they were nine years ago. The recession helped restore some of our city's competitiveness, but Hong Kong is still far too expensive for industries that depend on an abundance of cheap labour. That is why, as we climb up the value ladder - notably through further growth of the financial sector - those who lack the skills to take a share of the wealth generated by this industry are being left further behind. The polarisation explains why different segments of our property market have gone their separate ways. In Hong Kong, flats larger than 100 sq metres, or 1,076 square feet, are considered luxurious. According to the Rating and Valuation Department's 'Hong Kong Property Review', while prices for these flats have risen by an average of 25 per cent since 1999, prices for others have dropped by about 10 per cent during the same period. For super-luxurious dwellings bigger than 160 square metres, or 1,722 square feet, prices have risen as much as 34 per cent. At the other end, however, the prices of flats smaller than 40 square metres, or 430 square feet, are down 15 per cent since 1999. As 1999 prices were about 70 per cent off 1997 levels, this shows that many property owners have yet to recover from the deep wounds they suffered in the post-handover slump in values. That is especially true for those who bought in the years leading up to the handover and those who bought small flats. Perhaps that is why sales of new flats in the mass residential market have remained flat, despite the availability of cheap credit and efforts by developers to package small flats as luxurious. For those who feel that an appreciating yuan and a weakening US dollar - to which the Hong Kong dollar is pegged - should mean rising inflation, there is hope that the values of all types of properties will rise. Yet there are also worries that a sudden withdrawal of hot money that arrived in anticipation of a revaluation of the yuan might undermine the property market's shaky recovery. Regardless of what may happen, there is no doubt policymakers will have to take concrete measures to ensure that the poorer people in our community are not left behind as those with skills and talent continue to drive Hong Kong forward. In June, the average monthly wage of a cleaner was HK$5,166. No cleaner could expect to live on that HK$1.8 billion site. It is telling that, even if someone earning that wage saved all their earnings for eight months, they would only be able to buy one square foot of that plot.