Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Tuesday, April 15:
HK property prices, valuations headed for further falls
Analysis: Hong Kong’s private residential real estate market is poised for a further fall as homeowners cut asking prices and new home units go on the market for less. Price valuations of some units at Taikoo Shing, a major private residential development on Hong Kong Island, have fallen more than 15 percent year on year and 4.3 percent in two months, an HKEJ investigation found. New World Development Co. Ltd. (00017.HK) chairman Henry Cheng said he expected general housing prices to fall 10 percent this year, while other industry veterans are tipping bigger falls in the mid-to-high end of the market.
Hong Kong govt readies for US$1 bln AAA-rated sukuk
Interview: The city government is on track for its debut sale this autumn of US$500 million to US$1 billion worth of Islamic bonds, also known as sukuk, said Peter Pang, deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. The planned launch of the new asset class is expected to bolster the development of the bond market in the city, possibly giving a boost to issuance by private enterprises, Pang said. Muhammad Ibrahim, deputy governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, the country’s central bank, said Hong Kong’s sukuk will be the first batch of sovereign Islamic bonds to bear a top-notch ‘AAA’ rating.
Chow Tai Fook to channel gaming profits to family foundation
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd., the property-developer-to-jewelry-retailing conglomerate, will donate all of the net profits from its casinos and gaming businesses to the Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation, group chairman Henry Cheng said. The family-controlled group runs gaming businesses in the Philippines, Macau and Australia. The foundation has given over HK$900 million (US$116 million) to about 100 charity projects in Hong Kong and the mainland since its inception in 2008.
No admissible evidence against fugitive Ma Sik-chun, govt says
Hong Kong’s High Court yesterday rejected an application by Oriental Daily newspaper co-founder Ma Sik-chun to revoke an arrest warrant issued against him in 1978 after he fled to Taiwan to avoid drug trafficking charges. The Department of Justice took a neutral position in the hearing. A department representative told the court it no longer had enough admissible evidence to press charges against Ma. Ma would not face prosecution if he returned to Hong Kong and would almost certainly be acquitted. The department later said in a statement that Ma was informed of its view in 2005.
Keep dialogue open, build on Shanghai reform talks, officials say
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam added her voice yesterday to calls for continued discussion on political reform between pan-democrat legislators and mainland officials following their first talks in Shanghai Sunday. Legislative Council President Tsang Yok-sing said dialogue should not be disrupted by minor incidents. In an editorial yesterday, the official Global Times lambasted radical legislator Leung Kwok-hung, who was denied entry into Shanghai after he was found to be carrying a June 4-related T-shirt and pamphlets.
Ukraine crisis casts shadow over global recovery
Riots in eastern Ukraine have escalated with pro-Russian groups storming government buildings. Russia’s economic strength and resources wealth mean that it will not easily collapse even if Western countries impose more economic sanctions. But many Western countries that rely on natural gas from Russia will suffer. The worsening of the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine will not only aggravate the military conflict in the region, but also cast a long shadow over the global economic recovery.
China sets governance reform as fifth modernization
China’s leadership under Xi Jinping has vowed to make stronger official governance their fifth modernization, in addition to overhauls to industry, agriculture, science and technology and defense, Beijing-based commentator Ren Huiwen wrote. One of the key tasks is to speed up reform of the judicial system, including the development of an independent, fair trial system and protection for human rights. The hope is the authorities will be able to rid the judicial system of the influence exerted by former Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang and his gang.
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