If you’ve been following the news, you know that property giant Cheung Kong has been selling hotel suites as residential units, offering buyers a trapdoor out of a new forthcoming stamp duty tax. Burned by Cheung Kong’s clever move, the humiliated and emotional SAR government coldly warned buyers that properties will be “followed-up closely,” which suggests they’ll be making sure suites are strictly used for “hotel purposes.” Local law forbids residence in a hotel suite, either by any guest or by sub-owner as is the case with Cheung Kong’s sale, for a period of more than 28 consecutive days. A “follow-up closely” threat by the government could lead to undercover agents lurking in the corner of the lobby or in corridors monitoring whether occupants have been coming back to stay overnight for a consecutive 28 nights. In a Hitchcockian “Vertigo” style of stalking, a secret agent could dash out of the shadows to arrest an innocent owner who comes whistling back home on the 29th night. But what if the suite-owner rents it out to his mistress on the 29th day, who invites him back to stay overnight for tender reunion? Or he simply disappears on the 29th day, only to come back the next day to stay for another 28-day period? The 28-day hotel residence restriction law looks like a badly-designed insult to average human intelligence. It will only make lawyers happy. Famous hotels in New York, London or Beverly Hills all boast about having celebrities like Bob Dylan, Stanley Kubrick and Johnny Depp as their permanent residents. Howard Hughes stayed in a penthouse at the Desert Inn in the 1960s for a few years. He bought the hotel when he was asked politely when he would check out. In a free world, the residential period of a hotel guest remains the private business between him and the hotel management, who is likely to agree to a period as long as 28 years, let alone 28 days, provided that he pays the bill. If he dies in the room, the hotel management will appreciate it if the undertaker’s bill has been settled in advance by the recluse, and they won’t have to call the police to dig the body out from a rooftop water tank. Think of the possibilities. The Peninsula and The Mandarin could sell some of their suites to rich mainland Chinese. The room where Elizabeth Taylor stayed in 1964, for example, could fetch a higher price than the one in which Leslie Cheung is said to have spent his last three hours chain-smoking before leaping from the rooftop. Like paintings, these will be good investments. Chinese sub-owners could come back from their Shanxi coal mines for an occasional one-night stay—a better choice than a hotel-casino in Macau. If he nicks a kettle or the TV set from the room while stepping out the next morning, like many Chinese tourists are getting used to doing before checking out their hotel rooms, they’ll soon have to turn around and giggle at their own silly absent-mindedness.