Some links you can’t build housing on

Three leading participants in Occupy are on trial for ‘inciting people to incite others to cause public nuisance’ among other charges along similar, if less tortuous, lines. This is part of a pattern since the Umbrella Movement in which Beijing’s Liaison Office has ordered Hong Kong authorities to inflict maximum vindictiveness on political activists. (The latest meticulously maintained list is here. It’ll need a spreadsheet soon.)

Did public prosecutors come up with the banana-republic-sounding ‘incitement to incite’ thing to please the Communist Party’s rabid goons, or to subvert and attract ridicule to Beijing’s authoritarian clampdown here? Benny Tai et al helped organize a demo – we will see whether the courts go along with such desperate attempts to make that a crime.

Other legal stuff… Former Hong Kong official and pro-Beijing um, heavyweight Patrick Ho, facing trial in the US, could go for a plea bargain, a lawyer argues. This could entail him spilling the beans about senior people in China’s murky state-capitalist elite. Mmmm… The alternative in the US anti-corruption system is a possible 20-year sentence (which even the Liaison Office would blanch at). So much for the wishy-washy liberal idea that tough sentences don’t work. That said, there is a tradition in Mainland graft for middlemen-stooges to carry the can in the knowledge that their family will be rewarded by the genuinely guilty people higher up (a neo-Confucian thing).

Back to housing: Professor Richard Wong has interesting ideas about privatizing public estates and other ways of addressing Hong Kong’s key livelihood problem. However, he has a curious obsession with the role of divorce in the equation. There is a link between Mainland immigration and failed marriages (which increase the number of households, thus pressure on demand for cheap units). But to hear him tell it here, public housing pretty much causes divorce. Does he have unique insight into demographics and other social sciences, or is he just a nut (religious or otherwise) on this subject?

One of the best summaries of China’s much-discussed Orwellian dystopian face-recognition social-credit Black Mirror nightmare-in-the-making is worth reading here. Does Xi really think he can zombify and herd 1.3 billion? And with that in mind, a breath of fresh air on the China-taking-over-because-of-Trump theme to remind us that ‘We suck, but China does too.’


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15 Responses to Some links you can’t build housing on

  1. Paul Lewis says:

    I met Benny Tai on the MTR around the time of the Occupy protests.
    I gave him words of encouragment, and said to continue with the good work.

    Can I be charged with inciting people to incite people to incite others to cause public nuisance?

    As has been pointed out earlier, the police action of firing tear gas at the crowd was the biggest incitement for people to continue and escalate the demonstrations.

  2. Stanley Lieber says:

    The article on social credit in China is recommended.

  3. Cassowary says:

    I have come to the conclusion that Richard Wong doesn’t believe that public housing causes divorce so much that he thinks that middle-class homeowners stay in bad marriages for the property. Perhaps he has some personal insight into that.

  4. LRE says:

    Slightly off-topic, but delicious nonetheless:

    Dubious Ho (the chap who’s “Kill them all” cut out the middleman by just inciting people to murder, old school style) has just offered his support to the New Secretary for Injustice with regards to her illegal house scandal with a new, poorly-thought out proclamation that’s off-message in so many gorgeous ways: “It’s no big deal — After all, who hasn’t bought a house with illegal structures?”

    With friends like Dubious, the pro-dictatorship camp really doesn’t need enemies.

    By the way, does anyone know the building department’s illegal structure hotline? I feel a phone call coming on …

  5. Knownot says:

    From the article in Wired about social credit.

    Stranger than fiction.

    There is a kind of label called a QR code, which holds 100 times more information than a barcode.

    “Codes started appearing on graves (scan to learn more about the deceased).”

  6. Old Newcomer says:

    @LRE – the murderous Ho is not entirely incorrect. I would estimate that about 90% of older houses in the NT have some sort of UBW, from glazed-in balconies to entire extra floors.

  7. Probably says:

    @Paul Lewis, I would normally applaud your post above except for the fear of being charged with inciting people inciting people to incite people to incite others to cause public nuisance.

  8. LRE says:

    @Old Newcomer
    I’d probably not argue the guesstimate that 90% of older NT houses do have UBWs.

    However in a town where the median income is $16,200pm and a median flat price being $5.4 million, and thus the majority of the population can’t afford to buy a flat, I’d say the answer to Dubious’ rhetorical question is still: “Almost everyone in Hong Kong has not bought a house with illegal structures.”

  9. Hellcat says:

    Genius Ho represents the Tuen Mun constituency and is a former Law Society President responsible for disciplinary proceedings against solicitors in his time

    He knows very well that the solicitors who acted in the sale and purchase of the two properties with unauthorised structures neglected to spot them or fancied the fees anyway

    Saying as he does, that everyone does is it is the gang rape defence

  10. Chinese Netizen says:

    @LRE (8:26pm): LMAO!!! Good one!

  11. dimuendo says:


    Re solicitors knowing or not about unauthorised building works, my understanding is solicitors investigate and ensure good title to a property. By title I mean ownership by the vendor. It is not part of their role to physically go and inspect, and given the way pre contracts work in HK you cannot realistically make pre contract enquires as to, say, UBW unless, in the event such are disclosed, the purchaser wishes to withdraw.

    A friend of mine told a story years ago as to how his firm acted as to the proposed purchase of a village hosue, namely 3 stories. The client had signed the preliminaery contract (prepared by estate agents) and paid her deposit , as it customary. She , or somebody , subsequently made a throw away remark about liking the five stories. Result, she was advised to withdraw, not exchange formal contract. She lost her deposit, and had of course to pay the property agent’s two percent.

    Solicitors perfectly correct.

    If the presnt system is to continue, then the approved preliminary contracts shoudl include a mandatory term that there are no unauthorised building works. Market is cleaned up or feezes.

  12. dimuendo says:

    Apologies for the many typos. I did “proof read” before posting, but obviously not very well.

    It would be nice if the font size was bigger, and the colour was black, not mid grey.

  13. Knownot says:

    dimuendo –
    This may be fussy, but you can type first (as I sometimes do) in Word or even in email, and then copy and paste.

  14. Din Gao says:

    Perhaps the Standing Committee will amend the Basic Law to state that all senior officials of the HK SAR Government should not have an IQ above 80 and are above the law. That would solve the problem?

  15. LRE says:

    As far as I know with village houses bought with a mortgage, the bank insists on a surveyor (and banks are particularly fussy about village houses, as they are rightly seen as potentially dodgy build quality, ergo not the best collateral). The surveyor submits the reports to your solicitor and the bank, who compare with the original plans plus any legal amendments (this is part of the deeds to the property). The solicitor is legally bound to advise you on any discrepancies, and does so, although they won’t stop you going ahead if you want to, caveat emptor style.

    Given this is SOP, and that she’s one of the territory’s foremost “experts” on construction law and illegal structures, there is no way in hell she didn’t do this eyes wide open to the illegality of her house. Remembering your village house is illegal if you can count past 3 floor levels with a full roof is not exactly rocket science, and nobody in a Hong Kong property is that busy that they can’t count all the floors of their village house.

    TL;DR — She’s the slag wot dun the blag, bang to rights, guv.

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