Link Reit is the ugly face of capitalism in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 4:48pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 10:12pm

I refer to Alex Lo’s column on the Link real estate investment trust (“Arguments not made of the reit stuff”, November 14).

It is most unfair of Lo to dismiss complaints about the hardship the Link Reit has caused to public housing residents as mere political antics of populist politicians. Lo needs to ask himself just one question: of all the publicly listed companies in Hong Kong with profit maximisation as their raison d’être, why has only the Link Reit been singled out for protests by legislators across the political spectrum?

No listed company in Hong Kong’s history has consistently attracted so much angry moral condemnation as the Link has, because there are real problems with its business practices, albeit within the Securities and Futures Commission’s code on reits (at least for now).

We are not complaining about the Link Reit not “subsidising mom-and-pop shops”. Nobody expects landlords to do that.

We are complaining about the Link Reit hiking rentals so much that doctors cannot afford to run clinics in housing estates, and welfare agencies have to close down.

We are complaining about it using its market dominance to hike the reversion rate over three-year leases by 26.8 per cent in 2017, when, according to the Rating and Valuation Department, rent levels over a three-year period in private retail properties on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories have gone down by 7.92 per cent, 12.78 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.

It is disturbing that Lo takes such a dismissive view of representative democracy.

I can speak on behalf of my like-minded colleagues that we have received genuine and legitimate complaints from our constituents, many of whom are elderly people.

We have a duty to represent their grievances and urge the authorities to provide remedies.

In spite of everything the Link Reit and Lo have said to whitewash its greed, we will continue to speak up against this particularly odious and ugly face of capitalism.

Regina Ip, member, Legislative Council