Friday, 21 October 2016

Typhoon Haima Shuts Down HK

No traffic on the roads in Kennedy Town this morning
This morning at 6.10am, the Hong Kong Observatory raised the Typhoon No. 8 signal, which would last for most of the day, as Typhoon Haima came close to the east side of the territory.

In Kennedy Town just before 9am, winds started picking up with only a few drops of rain. Hardly any traffic was on the roads, save for some taxis trying to gauge passengers, but the MTR was running.

In Belcher Bay Park, a handful of people could not forego their exercise regime and continued doing laps around the park, while leaves and small branches were scattered on the ground.

Many had the day off work today with the T8 signal
The commute to Taipo was painless with hardly any cars on the road. But around 11am the winds got stronger as Typhoon Haima made its approach around noon.

One of the trees in front of one of our fourth floor windows started bending almost horizontally. We saw it and ran to the window. But when we got there, it didn't bend back as far again. It was also raining very heavily at times.

However, after lunch I looked out the window and the tree was gone! It had snapped and fallen along with a few others.

Not until 5.20pm did the observatory lower the signal to Typhoon No. 3 and by the time I came home from work at 7.20pm, it was like this morning -- windy and light showers.

For most people it was a day off work and many businesses were shut. Francis Lun Sheung-nim, chief executive of financial group GEO Securities estimated Hong Kong may have lost over HK$5 billion in business.

This tree in the foreground had fallen after lunch!
That's a massive sum, but probably true, seeing as most of the city was shut down, including the airport, the stock exchange, banks, schools and then all the way down to independent businesses.

Now at midnight the typhoon signals have been cancelled. What a week! We had black rain on Wednesday where lots of roads particularly on the east side of Hong Kong were flooded, and then yesterday was sunny and calm. And then today's chaotic mess.

Tomorrow we could see the sun again...

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Fact of the Day: Microflats Getting Even Smaller

Can you live in a tiny space like this day after day, year after year?
Just when you thought Hong Kong flats couldn't get even smaller, they are.

Emperor International Holdings will have the tiniest flats in the city when it plans to launch a project where each unit measures 61.4 square feet or 5.7 square metres.

One can barely even fit a mattress in that space.

Located at 17-19 Yik Kam Street in Happy Valley, the project -- which is yet to be named -- converts an existing 21-storey commercial building into a residential one.

The unit's current measurement doesn't include the space allocated for a kitchen and bathroom.

But when they are added, the space is still smaller than a project in Jordan called AVA62. There each unit measures 152 square feet -- including a balcony -- selling for HK$20,000 per square foot or HK$3 million.

Microflats are very popular because average home prices have soared beyond the reach of average salary earners, prompting developers to scale down.

And to meet the demand, as many as 5,000 small flats are in in the pipeline every year until 2019, almost triple the average in the last decade.

We get that developers are appealing to investors and first-time buyers to create flats that are somewhat affordable.

But who wants to live in flats like that? What are the psychological effects of living in such tiny spaces?

It can't be good for one's wellbeing...

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Legco's Outrageous Circus

Paul Tse (centre) instigated the pro-establishment walkout of Legco
Today was a descent into chaos in the Legislative Council.

The High Court ruled late last night that the two Youngspiration lawmakers, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang could retake their oaths, and Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen allowed them to do that too.

So everyone expected to watch how the young politicians would recite the oath this time.

However the spotlight was hijacked by the pro-Beijing side, when Paul Tse Wai-chun spoke before the meeting, suggesting lawmakers should walk out of Legco if the pair do not apologize and genuinely swear the oath.

Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching must wait another week
After 11am, two other lawmakers were sworn in before pro-establishment members started walking out of the chamber, so the president had to ring the quorum bell.

Then outside the chamber, the pro-establishment formed a human wall, and Leung Kwok-hung or "Long Hair" stood in front of them in protest, hurling luncheon meat at them before there was a shouting match for 10 minutes.

Andrew Leung had to adjourn the meeting 19 minutes after it started because of the lack of quorum and Yau, Sixtus Leung and another localist have yet to be sworn in.

It's ironic to see the pro-Beijing camp stopping all proceedings and paralyzing Legco over the oath-taking, insisting the pair apologize and that they must acknowledge that Hong Kong is China.

Meanwhile the president has won big points by observers for trying to stick to the rules and give the localists -- who had opposed his run for the job -- to take the oath again, though he too is now at odds with his colleagues.

It's lonely at the top for Legco President Andrew Leung
It's all a downright mess really. Can we just get the formalities over with? The Younspiration folks have learned their lesson and promise to take the oath properly. But now they have to wait yet ANOTHER week to do that.

Meanwhile the judicial review filed last night with the High Court to look at Andrew Leung's decision to allow the Youngspiration lawmakers to retake their oaths was revealed to be lodged by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Security Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung.

Seems like CY doesn't mind his popularity sinking even lower...

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Gov't Seeks to Stop Democratically Elected Lawmakers

Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching are in court this evening
BREAKING -- Just before midnight Tuesday, the court rejected the injunction application to stop Youngspiration's Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hung from retaking their oaths, but the judicial review of Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen's decision to allow the pair to retake their oaths has been allowed.

Right now a High Court judge is deciding whether to stop two lawmakers from taking their oaths again tomorrow after the Hong Kong government filed a last-minute court order.

The action was filed against Youngspiration's Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang as defendants and interestingly controversially newly minted Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen was named co-defendant.

The young lawmakers arrived at court at 8.30pm and slammed the government for not giving them enough time to get proper legal advice.

Andrew Leung is also named as a co-defendant in the case
"They have not even supplied us with the documents [before the hearing]... This goes to show the government is willing to strip us of our qualifications at any cost," said Yau.

Sixtus Leung said they would do their best to defend themselves as well as the city's dignity and interest.

Meanwhile Legco president Leung instructed his lawyer to object to the government's application for a judicial review of his decision to allow Yau and Leung to re-take their oaths on Wednesday.

This is the first time the government has sought to invalidate the status of democratically elected lawmakers.

What is going on?

Yau and Sixtus Leung had already announced they would not create anymore antics and retake the oath properly after getting a landslide of criticism for saying "the People's Republic of Chee-na" instead of "China", and Leung claiming the pronunciation was due to his "Ap Lei Chau" accent.

The court decides if the lawmakers should retake the oath
While there are questions of Andrew Leung's exact citizenship situation, what has he done wrong? Where does it say that lawmakers are not allowed to retake their oaths? Is the government claiming the pro-Beijing president is not doing his job?

Our political system is showing cracks with things that could have been resolved through discussion and compromise, now are being resolved through the courts.

Judges should not have to decide on every single matter.

How can the government decide to invalidate the votes of Hong Kong people who voted for Yau and Sixtus Leung?

This will only further galvanize the already fractious situation, creating more tension in the city and its residents wonder if anything will ever get done politically.

Can we all please move on? We've only just started this new session of the legislature and already it's a mess.