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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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: 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

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

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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

Truck owner fined $6000 over Pui O waste dumping

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Pui O (file photo)

In yet another failed attempt to protect Hong Kong’s environmental assets, a truck owner has been fined just HK$6000 over the dumping of waste in Pui O.

The owner, who has not been identified, was convicted over not revealing the name of the driver.

Under the Waste Disposal Ordinance, the offence of not providing information without reasonable cause carries a penalty of up to HK$100,000 – 15 times the fine levied by the Eastern Magistrates Court on Monday. Continue reading

Lantau taxi fares up again

Lantau taxi fares are on the rise once more. From April 9, the flagfall charge will be hiked 11.7% and the incremental charge 7%.

Under the new rates, approved by the Transport & Housing Bureau and endorsed Tuesday by the chief executive in council, the flagfall will increase from $HK17 to HK$19 and the incremental charge – for every 200m – will rise from HK$1.40 to HK$1.50.

Hong Kong and New Territories cab fares will also increase by HK$2 per flagfall. In the initial application last April, Lantau drivers had sought to increase the flagfall by HK$4, Apple Daily reported.

In the last price rise in December 2013, the blue taxi flagfall was hiked from HK$15 to HK$17 and the red taxi from HK$20 to HK$22.

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