IF Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Director Lu Ping is serious about bringing mainland property speculators under control, it will do more to maintain stability than vague promises of economic co-operation with the Hong Kong Government. For months, state company employees with bulging pockets and no personal responsibility for the funds at their disposal have been investing huge sums in Hong Kong property, helping push both domestic and commercial prices beyond the reach of local buyersor sensibly managed companies. It is also suspected that mainland company employees agree to higher prices with agents or developers in return for a sizeable commission. If they resell the flat at a higher price to another company, they make a profit. Should the market fall, they will be relying on the Bank of China or their parent companies to bail them out. The Chinese authorities are now as worried as their Hong Kong counterparts ought to be. Unfortunately, there is little sign the Hong Kong Government is taking the overheated market seriously enough. Secretary for Environment Planning and Lands Tony Easonwas right yesterday when he said flat owners do not want to see the devaluation of their assets. What the Government apparently does not understand is that failure to act now will mean a bigger crash later. Nor does it show any signs of recognising that mainland speculation is only part of the problem. The real culprits are the local property giants whose path to easy profits the Government is paving by releasing too little land and allowing them to withhold completed property from the market. Releasing more land will be a good start. But authorities ought to look into to what extent a cartel of property giants conspires to restrict the supply of flats to the market. Perhaps the suggestion that the Government get into the construction and flat-sales business to circumvent the property moguls smacks too much of interventionism. But there is room for tougher action against land hoarders.