Hong Kong Intelligence Report #52 Corporatist Choruses : 'Housing Shortage' 'Deregulation'

#Translation

FILE PHOTO: ''朋黨'' National Union Logo (Portugal)  ©Wikimedia/ Dahn
FILE PHOTO: ''朋黨'' National Union Logo (Portugal) ©Wikimedia/ Dahn

IMPORTANT


1. On the contrary to official narrative broadly propagated by real-estate oligarchs (monopoly capitalists of this extremely neoliberal city), the total housing stock in Hong Kong is sufficient for all domestic households in Hong Kong. The total housing stock in Hong Kong does not constitute the so-called 'shortage of supply' that the crony coalition of government and business has been feeding day and night, i.e. according to the latest figures from Census and Statistics Department, the total permanent housing stock in Hong Kong is 2.941 million (end of June 2021) for 2.6952 million households in Hong Kong (September 2021). In addition, according to the latest data from Transport and Housing Bureau, the total permanent housing stock in Hong Kong is 2.913 million (end of March 2020) for 2.645 million households in Hong Kong (March 2020). (1)(2)(3)


In general, the relationship between the total housing stock and the total number of households in entire Hong Kong clearly demonstrates that there is no such thing as an 'overdemand' or 'shortage' of housing in Hong Kong.

If the 'shortage' is really true as corporatist agitators 'STARs' are propagating everyday, the total housing stock in Hong Kong must be less than the total number of households in Hong Kong.

In fact, the indelible truth is systematically and one-sidedly enshrouded by corporatist media machines in order to push their own greedy agendas with 'popular support' from crassly misled sheeple (their victims).


2. Latest number of public housing (rental housing) applicants (demand): 254,500 (September 2021) (4)

Total number of public housing (rental housing) in Hong Kong: 842,200 (June 2021) (5)

Total number of public housing households in Hong Kong: 786,288 (March 2021) (6)

Total number of all kinds of public housing units supplied by the Government (including public rental housing): 1,299,948 (March 2021) (7)


The tension between the gradual piling up of demand (applications) for public housing and the systematically suppressed annual production of public housing units is by no means the origin of the 4 highs (high land prices, high property prices, high rent, high commodity prices). Although it includes the army of speculators who speculate even in public housing, public housing applicants are basically the victims (results) of the 4 highs policy in the private property market, the underprivileged, they are not the culprits of the 4 highs (high land prices, high property prices, high rent, high commodity prices) in Hong Kong. The real estate oligarchs' crony alliance endlessly produces the cause and effect relations, chains of misery. It seems that the ruling 'elites' only cope with result 1, result 2 and result 3, but never dare to touch the cause.


The demand for public housing has several key points below:


a) The demand for public housing and the 4 highs are not essentially related to each other and are not causally related because the demand for public housing has been de-linked from the demand in the private housing market. In other words, the demand for public housing is a change after the demand for private housing has been squeezed out and abandoned because the purchasing power of public housing market does not logically match that of the 4 highs.


b) The constant relationship between the piling up of demand for public housing year after year and the very low rent levels affordable to the grassroots, which are highly controlled by the government, it shows that there is no causal relationship between the supply of public housing per se and the 4 highs (i.e., the piling up of demand for public housing is not a cause, but a consequence). The government will continue to keep rents extremely low and affordable. In other words, even if the supply of public housing increases (and it does increase every year), it will not solve the problem of the 4 highs. (8)


For example, the affordability of public housing rents at the grassroots level.


READ MORE:

公屋租金表 2021


Although there is a demand for public housing of 254,500 units (September 2021), the corresponding rent level is maintained at a very low level of around HKD 2,300 (ranged from HKD 1,320 - 3,410). This shows that the demand for public housing itself is not the reason for the 4 highs. Instead, the demand for public housing is deliberately piled up to serve a political function/role for the local oligarchy. (9)


c) The political propaganda of the so called 'property hegemony' that 'supply does not meet demand', 'shortage of housing' and call for 'increase in supply' is masking the real cause of the 4 highs such as monopoly, hoarding of land and housing units, and aggressive speculation. The highly suppressed supply of public housing units over the years and the piled up demand for public housing (the result of the 4 highs) are all bound up in the political demands of the real estate hegemony, victims automatically changed into the human hostages, the political bargaining chips. Here, one of the specific forms of speculation is inappropriate housing rental business. Those who are unable to buy or rent private housing in the first place are pushed into the public housing market and have to get in line for six years or more, during which time they are forced to rent various types of inappropriate housing run by speculators. In other words,


As long as Xia Baolong is asking for specific types of unsuitable housing to be banned, it does not affect the real estate oligarchy at all, but only the speculators who operate specific types of unsuitable housing units for rental. The essence of Xia Baolong's theory of expulsion of specific types of unsuitable housing by 2049 is an indirect promise that the real estate hegemony will remain unchanged for 52 years (1997-2049).

d) The types of unsuitable accommodation in Hong Kong are not only about the two types mentioned by Xia Baolong on July 16, 2021 (sub-divided units and cage homes), but also bedspace, cubicles or rooftop houses or nano flats or tenement buildings or squatter huts or dangerous buildings in the various state (e.g., the 50-year life span of a building) etc. in Hong Kong. Admittedly, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office seriously lacks specific analysis of specific situations. The land and housing issue (real estate hegemony) is already a national security issue that is spreading all over China as the governing model for local provinces. National security personnel must not just be the bodyguards/security guards of the system (national security is not the same as just anti-terrorism, anti-foreign military operations, should not dwarf the concept of national security), but need to further focus on the political, economic and livelihood issues in various areas of society (the real national security issues) to carry out specific analysis of the specific situation and propose solutions to the decision makers. We should not blindly and childishly listen to the so-called 'elites' (agents) of the oligarchic crony coalition (the basis of elitism is obscurantism and seeing masses as an ignorant mob), their 'purchased' titles including NPC, CPPCC, HKSAR government, holders of public office in the Legislative Council, District Councils, statutory bodies, advertisers, media reporters (who are often nothing more than marketing staff for specific interest groups), paid writers, societies/NGOs, trade unions, chambers of commerce, think tanks, etc. The biggest political resistance to solving the land and housing problem in Hong Kong is the expanding coalition of reactionary forces since the British Hong Kong colonial era. (10)


3, 'New Prospect for Hong Kong' is a new real estate party. Zhang Xinyu, a candidate for the Legislative Council in the New Territories North who was indirectly mentioned by Xia Baolong on December 6, 2021, was not only nominated by one of the hegemonic property developers, Justin Chiu Kwok-hung, the executive director of Cheung Kong Holdings, but also openly advocated 'using about HK$300 billions of fiscal reserves to acquire about 2,600 hectares of abandoned agricultural land in the New Territories North of Hong Kong. This is exactly what the hoarding of agricultural land in the New Territories is all about. This is exactly the 'policy' desired by the property oligarchy that hoards agricultural land in the New Territories. ('cooperation between government and business'; collusion; government-business co-rule), i.e. the property oligarchies first collect land at low prices in the New Territories and hoard it in large quantities, and then approach the government to propose the development of 'new town planning' so that the government 'can acquire' the hoarded land at high prices or ask the government to develop peripheral infrastructure facilities for the property oligarchs. This is how they cause 4 highs skilfully. (11)(12)


4. Before further deregulation of Cap. 545 Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance, adapting the Cap. 124 Lands Resumption Ordinance (IMPERIAL SWORD) against the relatively poor small owners who oppose 'redevelopment' has in fact been repeatedly shown this year. It is expected to be used against the real estate hegemony to re-allocate their hoarded land and buildings for public purpose, but instead, the so called IMPERIAL SWORD has been misappropriated and reduced to the real estate hegemony's IMPERIAL SWORD!


READ MORE:

政府刊憲收回土瓜灣土地以推行市區重建項目


'Increasing supply' (housing shortage) and 'removing barriers' (deregulation):
Giving more cakes to the real estate oligarchs is the 'solution' to the land and housing problem?

FACTS [sic]


  1. 根據差餉估價署及統計處資料,今年第1季全港約有294萬個永久性房屋,另外約有2萬個臨時房屋,合共296萬個單位。全港住戶數目未到270萬,即房屋存量多出住戶數目約27萬,大約10%。隨着港人移民數目增加,住戶數目減少,除非引入更多新移民,預計未來房屋存量將較住戶數目超出更多。因此,筆者一向認為香港的房屋供應是足夠的,主要是房屋分配問題。若果能夠有效分配房屋,樓價不應長期高企,特別是中小型單位及上車盤。房屋問題困擾市民多年,政府實應下定決心好好處理問題,讓市民可以安居樂業。(13)

  2. 2009年10月《施政報告》後,不少人批評時任特首曾蔭權坐視豪宅樓價大幅飈升,日後將蔓延至中小型住宅單位[私樓市場]。政府於是收緊2,000萬元豪宅按揭,由七成減至六成,並調高印花稅至4.25%。之後逐步收緊樓按,由2,000萬元物業,降至1,200萬元,最後1,000萬元以下物業都最多只能按六成,1,000萬元以上只可按五成,上限500萬元。隨着政府收緊按揭,資金轉投中小型住宅單位,樓價升幅遠遠高於豪宅,慢慢脫離一般市民的購買力。到近年,供樓負擔比率已升至60%以上。(14)

  3. 房屋問題同樣是社會矛盾之源。儘管中央對此十分關心,三令五申港官必須盡快告別劏房、增加公營房屋供應,以及傳出要求發展商「讓利」兼顧社會責任。無奈港府陽奉陰違,口說必須告別劏房,實際上拒絕訂出時間表,甚至揚言2049年才對劏房說再見,比「五十年不變」等得更久,而且不敢動發展商分毫,一手樓空置稅固然胎死腹中,揚言動用《收回土地條例》禁止發展商囤地最後也是不了了之。更不堪的是,剛公布的《長遠房屋策略》周年進度報告,未來10年的總房屋供應目標為43萬個單位,同上一年度公布的目標一樣[大喊口號,但低目標值不變;說一套,做另一套],意味一年過去,土地和房屋供應毫無增加,惟高官毫無愧色,對公屋一般申請的輪候時間遲早「登六破七」、比現時的5.9年等得更久直認不諱,甚至大言炎炎3年上樓承諾不變,只是要20年後方能達標。當居於不適切居所的港人多達12.7萬戶,再創史上新高,高官卻一味畫餅充飢,叫無殼蝸牛等多20年,這已不是不知民間疾苦,這是冷血涼薄,枉為父母官!(15)

  4. 住屋問題一直為香港社會各階層共同面對的挑戰。當中不少市民為求有一棲身之所,租住居住環境欠佳的不適切居所(包括俗稱「劏房」的分間單位、籠屋、床位、板間房或天台屋)。不適切居所最為人所咎病是環境惡劣;除了居住空間狹窄、室內空氣質素欠佳外,因房屋結構或佈局而衍生的潛在災害風險更不容忽視。(16)

  5. 夏寶龍指出,充分彰顯出新選舉制度具有以下幾個優勢和特點,包括廣泛代表性、政治包容性、均衡參與性及公平競爭性,新制度下有很多新面孔參選,有商界、學界、社會基層勞工、中小企、專業界精英翹楚;有土生土長的香港人,又有講普通話的「港漂」、台灣出生的人士、加入中國籍的「老外」,同時經歷豐富的從政者和年輕人參與。他舉例指,有居住劏房者參選,亦有巴士車長參選,形容這是過去出現沒有的光景。他強調是次選舉不是單聲道,多名持有不同政見和主張的人士,也成功獲得了提名,當中有政團支持的參選人士,也有自行參選的獨立人士,與所有立法會選舉候選人一樣,在同一個平台上競爭,體現新選制的最大開放包容程度。(17)

  6. 韋志成亦在網誌上提及,將研究重建油麻地、旺角舊區,計劃若開始進入項目儲備階段,市建局需動用上萬億元展開重建計劃,並需將計劃分開20個周期進行。他又稱,在每周期局方需要動用龐大的財政資源收購舊樓,還要在不虧本的樓市環境下從發展商收取前期資金。誠然,油麻地及旺角區的舊區範圍頗大,研究規劃及重建所需的資金必然較為龐大。但對於韋志成稱財務壓力會來自於收購舊樓,這個論點則值得商榷。市建局是政府成立的公營機構,並不屬於政府任何部門,但神奇地,局方被政府賦予不少資源及公權力。在市建局成立的首五年,即從2002/2003年度起,政府通過預算,在其後的五年內分批提供共100億元的資金。後來市建局的財政狀況逐漸好轉,但日後若有需要,政府也會再向局方注資。另外,市建局的重建計劃能夠獲得政府免補地價,免費獲得「高空發展權」。最為人詬病的,是市建局可以根據《市區重建條例》和《收回土地條例》收回土地,以後者為例,如局方與業主無法達成收購共識,局方可向政府申請使用該條例將土地收歸公有,收回觀塘市中心重建項目第五期內的裕民坊便是其中一例。除以上的特權外,市建局可以極低價向業主收購該土地或單位。例如,市建局在2006年開始為深水埗荔枝角道/桂林街和醫局街項目進行物業收購,當時業主自住物業的收購價只有每呎實用面積3,894元。其後市建局與長江集團合作,興建高級住宅「丰滙」,現時每呎售價為15,000至20,000元。不難看出,市建局在收購舊樓時的優勢極大,比起發展商私人收購,市建局需動用的財政資源必定比發展商少。(18)

  7. 「香港新方向」被一些媒體稱為「港漂」政黨,也有人認為他們是「年輕版的紫荊黨」。但張欣宇多次強調,自己並非要代表大陸來港人士爭取利益,或只關注某一部分人的需求,而是希望「服務整體香港人」。他也否認與紫荊黨有瓜葛。地區直選的議員由選民直接投票選出,而功能組別的議員則由每個專業界別的團體投票產生。除此之外,其他議員由選舉委員會選出。在新的選舉制度下,這三種類別在立法會中的席位比例為20:30:40。改制前,地區直選和功能組別各佔一半。在土地政策方面,他提倡動用約3000億港元的財政儲備,收購香港北新界約2600公頃荒廢農地,主要用於房屋發展。他希望多建設一條新界北的東西走廊,以改善交通。他還承諾引入疫苗、電動車等高增值產業。政府管理方面,他認為應改革公務員人士管理制度,建立績效考核和獎罰機制等。根據張欣宇,「香港新方向」的成員「都是自發性」加入。目前的運作和競選靠成員捐錢和眾籌維繫。他們近日推出眾籌計劃後,在24小時內收到過百人捐助,收到超過10萬港幣。「連我自己都沒想到,我們的支持者這麼有錢」,張欣宇坦言。在組織模式上,他的團隊沒有主席和副主席,除了負責行政方面的執行委員,其他人以政策為導向分為幾個小組,每個小組有一位召集人,負責形成某個領域的政綱。當被問到與親北京的傳統建制派的區別時,張欣宇說,不管是建制派還是民主派,都只服務於自己所代表的選民,「只代表某一個小圈子或小利益」,而他的組織希望「以民為本,以整個香港的利益為本」。以前香港立法會選舉實行「比例代表制」,為小黨提供了一些參政空間。支持者認為這樣有利於議會發出多元化聲音,但批評者說議員只需取悅其代表的選民,導致不同勢力各走極端。選舉制度改變後,立法會候選人需要由一個選舉委員會提名後產生;而選舉委員會的成員以及立法會候選人的資格需要由新設立的資格審查委員會審查後決定。這實際提高了「入閘」門檻,對持不同立場的政黨進入立法會有所限制。在今年9月產生的新一屆選舉委員會中,總數1488人中只有一名被視為非建制派人士。張欣宇取得的選委提名包括港大微生物學系講座教授袁國勇、港交所前行政總裁李小加、長實集團執行董事趙國雄、港鐵行政總裁金澤培等。在他所在的選區新界北,競選對手包括民建聯的劉國勳、獨立人士沈豪傑和曾麗文。(19)


COMMENT


In short, there is no such thing as an 'overdemand' of housing in Hong Kong, where the total housing stock is sufficient. Moreover, the systematic piling up of demand for public housing is not the origin of the 4 highs (high land prices, high property prices, high rent, high commodity prices), but the result of it. The artificially accumulated demand for public housing is met by extremely low government-controlled rents. First the inability / unaffordability to move into private housing, and then the systematic drive of those who do move into public housing market ends up in unsuitable housing by speculators (which is also a result/product of the 4 highs). Even the so-called "farewell to sub-divided units and caged homes" theory of Xia Baolong not only shows that the HKMAO lacks concrete studies on the specific situation of Hong Kong's land and housing problems, but also indirectly expresses the promise that the property hegemony will remain unchanged for at least 52 years (1997-2049).


Moreover, New Prospect for Hong Kong (New Property Party), a new political party indirectly mentioned by Xia Baolong, not only receives nominations from the real estate oligarchy, but also advocates that the government should use public money to buy a lot of agricultural land hoarded by the real estate oligarchs in the New Territories (a repeat of the 1982 Mightycity speculation case in Tin Shui Wai; this is exactly what the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy is about). The real estate oligarchs hoarded land firstly in order to tell the government to develop the surrounding infrastructure to raise its land prices and property prices (so called 'government-business cooperation' = 'fake land donation' is a specific term, the demand for public housing being pushed out is its policy hostage, bargaining chips), in exchange for only some public housing construction. The second is to acquire a large amount of land at bargain prices and then approach the government to propose a 'new urban plan' so that the government is forced to acquire the land that the property oligarch has hoarded in large quantities.


The so-called 'deregulation' (the so called neoliberalism), to be precise, is to remove barriers and remove restrictions for the property oligarchies and speculators (including the native landowners) by 'dismantling the bureau' and 'streamlining' the process of finding land for housing construction (in fact accelerating the process of monopoly, hoarding and speculation). They have used Cap. 545 Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance and advocated the amendment to Cap. 97 New Territories Ordinance to seize property at low prices. Furthermore, Cap. 124 Lands Resumption Ordinance, which is supposed to deal with the hoarding practice of the real estate oligarchs, has been used to buy out the property rights of the disadvantaged small property owners, thus becoming the imperial sword of the real estate hegemony (and they will have further changed Cap. 545 Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance).


All of the above is seriously lacking in the necessary measures against monopoly, hoarding, and speculation, and the large coalition of vested interests in the monopoly system keeps expanding the 'pro-establishment' chambers of commerce, think tanks, media, academics, financial KOLs, political parties, and labor aristocrats (so-called 'labor representatives'), the network of organizations such as societies, NGOs, statutory bodies, the CPPCC, the People's Congress, bureaucrats, and so on, are all engaged in a revolving door monopoly of crony capitalism (similar to fascism/ corporatism of Mussolini's Italy or Salazar's Portugal, especially the latter's National Alliance). What can the workers expect from the Hong Kong version of the National Alliance?


The solution to Hong Kong's housing problem is definitely not to 'give more cakes to the real estate oligarchies' as suggested by the cronies of the real estate oligarchies (such as 'increase supply' and 'tear down walls and loosen restrictions'), but rather it is a national policy of anti-monopoly, anti-hoarding, and anti-speculation (housing without speculation) for the common good (which is still a corrective policy in the realm of capitalism, and Hong Kong needs to realize it more than the mainland).


For example, there are currently enough housing units in Hong Kong to accommodate all Hong Kong families. If the real estate oligarchs were forced to allocate the existing large number of hoarded/vacant housing units to all families waiting for public housing at public housing rental prices, Hong Kong's housing problem could be solved quickly within a year, and there would be no need to find more land for housing construction. Why not make use of the so-called 'institutional advantage'?

Hong Kong's housing problem is not a supply problem, but a problem of how to allocate housing effectively.

NOTES


1.https://www.censtatd.gov.hk, 政府統計處, (November 12, 2021) '房屋及物業.' Available at

https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/tc/scode100.html


2.https://www.censtatd.gov.hk, 政府統計處, (November 30, 2021) '住戶.' Available at

https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/tc/scode500.html


3.https://www.thb.gov.hk, 運輸及房屋局, (August 31, 2021) '房屋統計數字2021.' Available at

https://www.thb.gov.hk/tc/psp/publications/housing/HIF2021.pdf


4.https://hk.on.cc, 東方日報, (December 13, 2021) '汪敦敬:房屋供應不足 政府需加快造地.' Available at https://hk.on.cc/hk/bkn/cnt/finance/20211213/bkn-20211213125324296-1213_00842_001.html


5.https://www.censtatd.gov.hk, 政府統計處, (November 12, 2021) '房屋及物業.' Available at

https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/tc/scode100.html


6.https://www.housingauthority.gov.hk, 房屋委員會, (August 31, 2021) '2020/2021年度年報.' Available at https://www.housingauthority.gov.hk/mini-site/haar2021/tc/common/pdf/Annual_Report_2020-21_EN_TC.pdf


7.Ibid.


8.https://www.censtatd.gov.hk, 政府統計處, (April, 2021) '香港統計數字一覽.' Available at https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/data/stat_report/product/B1010006/att/B10100062021AN21B0100.pdf


9.https://www.spacious.hk, 千居, (August 11, 2021) '【公屋租金】加減租機制、公屋租金表、減免措施一眼睇.' Available at https://www.spacious.hk/zh-tw/blog/公屋租金-加減租機制-公屋租金表-租金減免/


10.https://www.hk01.com, HK01, (July 16, 2021) '消息:夏寶龍指香港未來不會再有籠屋、劏房 應告別住房難問題.' Available at https://www.hk01.com/政情/651367/消息-夏寶龍指香港未來不會再有籠屋-劏房-應告別住房難問題


11.https://www.hk01.com, HK01, (December 6, 2021) '夏寶龍指不同政見者入閘 老外、港漂同參選 彰顯選舉非單聲道.' Available at https://www.hk01.com/政情/708921/夏寶龍指不同政見者入閘-老外-港漂同參選-彰顯選舉非單聲道


12.https://www.bbc.com, BBC, (December 2, 2021) '香港立法會選舉:「愛國者治港」下新崛起的政治力量.' Available at https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/chinese-news-59458189


13.https://inews.hket.com, HKET, (December 10, 2021) '【利財筆記】回歸後的房屋政策(下).' Available at https://inews.hket.com/article/3129182/【利財筆記】回歸後的房屋政策(下)


14.https://inews.hket.com, HKET, (December 3, 2021) '【利財筆記】回歸後的房屋政策(上).' Available at https://inews.hket.com/article/3123658/【利財筆記】回歸後的房屋政策(上)?mtc=40001&srkw=林本利


15.https://hk.on.cc, 東方日報, (December 10, 2021) '正論:特區事事皆不堪 政府何曾顧港人.' Available at https://hk.on.cc/hk/bkn/cnt/commentary/20211210/bkn-20211210000338178-1210_00832_001.html


16.https://www.hkjcdpri.org.hk, 香港醫學專科學院, (March 1, 2018) '居危思安 - 不適切居所住戶的環境安全及精神健康調查.' Available at https://www.hkjcdpri.org.hk/zh/居危思安-不適切居所住戶的環境安全及精神健康調查


17.https://www.hk01.com, HK01, (December 6, 2021) '夏寶龍指不同政見者入閘 老外、港漂同參選 彰顯選舉非單聲道.' Available at https://www.hk01.com/政情/708921/夏寶龍指不同政見者入閘-老外-港漂同參選-彰顯選舉非單聲道


18.https://www.hk01.com, HK01, (June 5, 2021) '先講「賺錢」再說「重建」  市建局已遺忘自身職責了嗎?.' Available at https://www.hk01.com/深度報道/634363/先講-賺錢-再說-重建-市建局已遺忘自身職責了嗎


19.https://www.bbc.com, BBC, (December 2, 2021) '香港立法會選舉:「愛國者治港」下新崛起的政治力量.' Available at https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/chinese-news-59458189



 

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