Property giant Cheung Kong's selling of 360 units in the Apex Horizon hotel in Kwai Chung has stirred up public anger and political and legal interest. The issue is the unfairness of the exemption from heavy stamp duties on buyers and quick resellers, which are aimed at cooling the red-hot market. Instead, the hotel sales are deemed commercial transactions.
To rein in the city's runaway housing prices, Hong Kong's Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced an additional 15 per cent stamp duty on non-permanent-resident and corporate buyers starting from October 27, 2012. The move prompted speculation over the effectiveness of taxation on the real estate market and criticisms that Hong Kong was turning away from its roots as a free market economy in favour of a more protectionist market environment.