SCMP’s lost mission

Alibaba COO Joe Tsai was one of the big names at RISE yesterday, but if you went hoping for an insight into a media title grappling with digital, you’d have been disappointed.

There was almost nothing that we didn’t hear at the time of the acquisition, rather confirming the view that the Alibaba crew are billionaire dilettantes not terribly interested in their new media toy.

They’ve been at it for 18 months but neither Tsai nor SCMP CEO Gary Liu could share a single number about page views, ad sales or investment.

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Another caravan park, another deadline – tonight

Another caravan park is seeking planning permission – this time one that is already in operation – and another last-minute deadline for public responses: midnight tonight.
This caravan park on the old Palm Beach site at Cheung Sha has been in business since late 2016, but is only now seeking Town Planning Board approval for the ‘temporary’ land use and the construction of ‘temporary’ sewerage facilities.

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Hong Kong, a cautionary tale

The fireworks are done, the barricades are down and the PLA has returned to barracks.

The weekend celebration of Hong Kong’s two decades under Beijing rule was marked by Xi Jinping himself, joining local dignitaries in the obligatory toasts to the ‘success’ of one-country two systems.

From their viewpoint it is a success – Hong Kong remains a source of wealth and under direct party control.

But most citizens would labour to identify any aspect of their lives that has improved. The city today is vastly more unequal, unfair, unhappy and unstable than in 1997. Once a freewheeling trading port with no interest in politics, political tension now infects even the smallest of local affairs. Continue reading

Aust-China #1: The stupidest thing ever

China’s problematic role in Australia is finally get an airing. But the most astonishing thing of all is that Australia actually welcomes foreign political donations.

Only when I came across this story 18 months ago, with photos of vapid grinning politicians and their foreign-born sponsors, did it occur that this was possible.

Not even the wildest internationalist can conceive of a ‘democracy’ in which non-citizens get to vote with their wallets and where politicians adjust policy in pursuit of largess from foreign billionaires. Continue reading

Today is last chance to object to Pui O wetland caravan park

Buffalo habitat under threat

This afternoon is the deadline for objections to the planned caravan park and camping ground on Pui O wetland.

The landowner wishes to turn 5000 sq m currently occupied by Garden Plus and adjacent wetland and farmland into a 15-caravan camp and hobby farm with sewerage facilities.

Details on the application are here.

The area is zoned Coastal Protection Area, which theoretically means it has ecological value, but which provides no enforcement or penalty for breaches.

Suggested grounds for objection:

  1. The wetland is valuable land, a part of the buffalo’s shrinking habitat and an important tourist attraction. The Sustainable Lantau Blueprint declared the area an important ecological zone that needed to be preserved. If this application is approved, others will quickly go through. It is incumbent upon the TPB to uphold the intent of the Blueprint, which is intended to set out the direction of Lantau development for the next two decades.
  2. It is inappropriate to turn a CPA area into a for-profit tourist facility that will severely degrade the ecological value of the site
  3. Already a caravan park appears to be operating at the rear of Garden Plus. If unauthorised land use is not penalised it makes a mockery of the planning system
  4. Local residents may have noise and traffic concerns about the proposal

Please go to this page to file your objection.

Caravans currently on-site





That time Mao declared independence from China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang laid down the law on independence at the National People’s Congress early this month. Independence for Hong Kong will “lead nowhere,” he fulminated in his annual work report.

But what about that time when the Communist Party declared independence from China? Continue reading

Mui Wo home prices set to soar, says CBRE


Mui Wo property prices are set to rise sharply, a senior Hong Kong real estate figure predicts.

Kam Hung-yu, a Hong Kong managing director at global estate giant CBRE and a former president of of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, predicts a major hike in residential valuations.

Writing in the Economic Journal he says the Housing Authority will start selling its new Mui Wo apartments in August. Mui Wo prices currently are at around $7000-$8000 psf, but after subsidies this will fall to as low as HK$5000.

“Some Hong Kong people believe the location is not attractive because it is too far [from the city],” he wrote. But he says citizens who qualify for the HA ‘green form’ subsidy should genuinely consider it. “This most likely is a housing market with very strong potential to rise in value,” he wrote. Continue reading