Sunday, 20 May 2018

Housing Prices Still Going Strong

Everyone still wants to get into the property market, including millennials
Young Hong Kong people might be complaining about the ever rising property prices, but this weekend they dug deep and dived into the real estate market.

According toe real estate company Colliers International Hong Kong, buyers snapped up about 250 units in four projects in the past three days, with prices ranging from HK$19,975 to HK$28,235 (US$2,545 to US$3,600) per square foot. Prices having continued to rise for 24 consecutive months, proof that housing prices aren't falling anytime soon.

Wings At Sea II in Tuen Mun had 100 units sold on Sunday
One of the projects by Sun Hung Kai Properties, Wings At Sea II, at Lohas Park, Tseung Kwan O, sold 100 units on Sunday, according to Sammy Po Siu-ming, chief executive of Midland Realty's residential division.

He said around half the buyers were millennials, who probably got help from their parents for the down payment or to pay the mortgage. This is the only way young people can afford to buy a home in Hong Kong, which was judged the world's least affordable housing market by US planning consultancy Demographia for the eighth successive year in January.

Meanwhile 78 units at Sun Hung Kai Properties' Mount Regency in Tuen Mun were sold out in three hours on Saturday, bringing nearly HK$400 million for the city's second-largest developer.

Grand Oasis in Kai Tak sold 50 units worth HK$700 million
Flats smaller than 430 sq ft on Hong Kong Island costs an average of HK$16,103 per sq ft, while for Kowloon it's HK$13,763 per sq ft, according to the Rating and Valuation Department.

Demographia's report says the media property price in Hong Kong now stands at around 19.4 times the median annual household income, compared to around 8.5 times in London, a city that is also deemed one of the most unaffordable places in the world.

Despite the financially challenges, millennials in Hong Kong are getting into the property market. They accounted for 32.3 percent of all new mortgages taken in the first quarter of 2017, up from 19.1 percent in the same period in 2013, according to figures from credit bureau TransUnion.

One 2,617 sq ft flat at Mount Pavilia sold for HK$74 million
Another developer, Wheelock Properties sold 50 units at Grand Oasis in Kai Tak within one and a half hours of its launch on Friday, raising HK$700 million, while New World Development's Mount Pavilia in Clear Water Bay, sold 17 units on Saturday. One flat that is 2,619 sq ft sold for HK$74 million, or HK$28,235 per sq ft.

Even though the government has tried to implement cooling measures to the property market, they aren't working... though it must be secretly happy to make more money from stamp duties, while property developers are laughing all the way to the bank.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Fans Shocked as Jet Li Ages Rapidly

A picture of him from a video message for Chinese New Year this year
Fans are shocked to see martial arts star Jet Li, 55, not looking well these days.

Recent photos of him revealed how hyperthyroidism and spinal problem have taken a toll on his heath. The star of such films as Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die and Expendables 2, revealed five years ago he has been suffering from hyperthyroidism.

Recent photos of Li taken in Tibet
A recent photo of him taken in Tibet shows his frail appearance and he apparently needed assistance to walk.

Hyperthyroidism causes changes in a person's metabolism and heart rate, and is usually treated through medication, which Li is taking. He said last year in Beijing that his strong belief in Buddhism as well as meditation and scripture reading helped him stabilize his condition.

He also said doctors warned him in 2013 that he would wind up in a wheelchair if he didn't stop making physically demanding action films.

He is well known for portraying Wong Fei-hung
"I'm just a regular guy. I'm not Wong Fei-hung. I'm not Huo Yuanjia [kung fu heroes he has portrayed on film]. I'm just like you," he also said last year.

Li said he was also suffering from leg and spinal problems and that he was unable to stand straight for too long, his poor health the result of decades of demanding film roles, stunts and injuries. He first started making films in his teens after he was crowned a wushu champion in the late 1970s.

It is sad to see such a favourite star deteriorate so quickly in the last few years. We can only hope he is not in too much pain.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Appeals for Liu Xia's Freedom are Rejected

Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo's last days together before he died last July
Liu Xia, wife of the late dissident writer Liu Xiaobo recently revealed she is losing her will to live. It was a plea in the hopes of leaving China, as she is currently under house arrest for a crime she did not commit.

One of Liu Xia's poems that she read in a video
Germany said earlier it would welcome Liu, who suffers from depression and believe to be in declining health, after a recording was released of her crying in desperation and indicating she has given up hope of being able to leave China.

"If I can't leave, I'll die in my home," Liu said during a recent phone call she had with her close friend Liao Yiwu, a writer who recorded their conversation.

In response the other day, over a dozen international writers and artists together with Amnesty International and PEN America have appealed for her release by issuing videos of them reading Liu Xia's poems.

Some of those reading the poem include Rita Dove, JM Coetzee, Paul Auster, and Khaled Hosseini.

However, China rejected this latest plea, saying Liu Xia's right to travel can only be determined by the Chinese government.

"It is a matter that falls within China's judicial sovereignty," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Thursday at a regularly scheduled news conference. "She is a Chinese national [and] we of course handle the relevant issue in accordance with our laws and regulations."

Liu Xia is depressed and does not have the will to live longer
No matter how much attention Liu Xia gets from the outside, China refuses to back down -- it is determined to punish her along with her family for her association with Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" in 2009. Before the Nobel laureate died last July of liver cancer, Liu Xia was only able to see him for a few days.

It is curious why the Chinese government sees Liu Xia as a threat and does everything it can to make her life nothing short of hell -- not being able to receive visitors, not being able to go out without being followed, and tapping her phone calls.

She has no choice but feel like there is no hope left for her except to die and rejoin Liu Xiaobo in another world. Surely Beijing wouldn't want that to happen?

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Nathan Law Quits Demosisto

Nathan Law was the youngest elected lawmaker to the Legislative Council
Former legislator Nathan Law Kwun-chung has had enough and is quitting Demosisto, the political party he co-founded.

The 24-year-old pro-democracy activist made the announcement yesterday on social media, saying he was stepping down as chairman of the two-year-old party, while co-founder Joshua Wong Chi-fung remains Demosisto's secretary-general.

Law said in his Facebook post on Wednesday that he is not abandoning his vision or beliefs, but wanted to "open up paths that were not explored before".

Law (far left) with Joshua Wong and Alex Chow at Occupy
"Since the umbrella movement, I have been living in the vortex of the political storm. In the face of the stern political situation, I found myself overloaded both physically and mentally. I need time to rally my forces and think about the road ahead."

Indeed he has been through a lot since he and Wong started Scholarism exactly seven years ago this month and since then Law has been in the public eye, particularly during the Occupy Movement in 2014.

Two years later the duo started Demosisto and Law ran and won a seat in the Legislative Council elections that year.

However, Law was dogged with law suits and jail time -- he, Wong and Alex Chow Yong-kang were convicted and jailed for six to eight months last August for their role in the Occupy protests that were deemed illegal.

Also after he was elected democratically into Legco in 2016, he was disqualified last year by the court for his improper oath-taking in which he made a short speech before taking the oath.

Law campaigning in 2016 with the Demosisto party
He quoted Mahatma Gandhi in saying: "You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind." And then as he took the oath, when it came to the word "republic", he changed the tone of his voice as if you ask a question -- "I swear allegiance to... the People's Republic of China?" he asked.

Although his oath was validated by the clerk, there was an unprecedented legal challenge mounted by then chief executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung. First it was Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung who were disqualified, then Law along with three others.

So one can imagine Law might be mentally and physically exhausted after what he has gone through. He also hints it's time to figure out another way to fight the establishment, though how else can one do that without doing something illegal these days?

The pro-Beijing side must be elated -- one less opponent to deal with (for now), and now there is speculation how much longer Demosisto will be around now that one of the co-founders is leaving.

It's not easy to walk away from something you have started, but perhaps Law feels now is the time to take a break and figure out what to do next.