Saturday, March 17, 2012

Better Late Than Never


The 55-page Consultation Report on the Proposed Legislation to Regulate the Sale of First-Hand Residential Properties may have eluded the Hong Kong public when they are knee-deep in the muddy news relating to the present CE candidates’ life-or-death fight. What is striking about the Report is the SAR government’s uncharacteristic firm tone in response to “what else is new” protest from the developers’ quarters.
Here is the link to the full Report:-
Proposed salient measures include the requirement for developers to use Saleable Area (i.e. habitable area plus balcony or verandah if any) in their price lists, to provide price lists to potential buyers at least 3 days before actual sale begins, to disclose key and relevant information (including plans) pertaining to the development in the sales brochures, to sell a specified minimum number of flats in any available batch, to keep for public display a constantly updated register of transactions and to disclose sales to the Vendor’s family members, directors or managers.
Other important measures are the criminalization of offences relating to false or misleading information and misrepresentation and the setting up of an enforcement authority with appropriate investigative powers.
As one reads the Report, one cannot but ask why these proposed measures weren’t in place eight or ten years ago? Or at least six years ago, after this article Fleecing Asia’s Homebuyers appeared on this website trying to debunk the malpractices in the industry:-
But alas, if you think that by today, the attitude of fat rich developers would have changed just a tiny tiny bit after the majority of Hong Kong people have expressed their disgust with them, you cannot be more wrong. Their thinking can be summed up in this sentence in the Report:-
“While REDA (Real Estate Developers’ Association) indicated no in-principle objection to regulate the sales of first-hand residential properties, it qualified its statement of support that the proposed measures had to be reasonable and proportionate, the restrictions imposed should not be more than necessary to accomplish such legitimate purpose, and that it was unconstitutional to regulate the sales of first-hand completed residential properties.”
More than once throughout the Report, the REDA voiced their resistance to the proposed measures because they “contravened the protection of the right of private ownership and disposal of property stipulated in the Basic Law.”
They might as well be saying that anything that would remotely weaken their rights to screw others is unconstitutional and that they are entitled to use the Basic Law as their shield, however indefensible their position is. If you tell them that while legislation is not expected to change their hearts, it is at least expected to restrain their heartlessness, they’ll think you’re talking gibberish.
As for the sudden change of heart the SAR administration has just shown, could it be a desperate attempt by the corruption-scandal ridden Tsang to win a few scores to save his tarnished face before riding out into the lonely sunset, or could it be that the administration is warming itself up for a new work style under the next CE, or something else? Only time will tell. The proposed Bill is way late. But it’s still better than if it never came.