29 February 2020
Hong Kong's property developers are fretting about the potential impact of the ongoing protests and civic disturbances in the city. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong's property developers are fretting about the potential impact of the ongoing protests and civic disturbances in the city. Photo: HKEJ

Property firms urge dialogue to end social unrest

Property developers expressed concern over the ongoing extradition bill-related protests in Hong Kong, warning about the potential impact of the unrest on the city’s economy and well-being.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong (REDA) said the rule of law, one of Hong Kong’s core values, has been seriously eroded by acts of violence and vandalism that took place in recent weeks.

Warning that such acts have exposed the Hong Kong economy to higher downside risk, the association condemned the escalating violence and said it wants to see peace and order return to the city.

The statement, which was signed by 41 REDA members, came after a similar one issued last Thursday, when 17 members of the association took aim at protesters, saying they “have deviated from the original intent of the peaceful demonstrations” and are bringing distress to the business community and the general public as a whole.”

In the latest press release, REDA said it firmly supports Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her administration, as well as the Hong Kong police, in their efforts to strictly enforce the law, put an end to the violence and chaos, and restore peace in society.

Acts such as defacing the national emblem and disrespecting the national flag, which were seen during a recent protest, go against the “one country, two systems” principle, and represent a deliberate challenge to the central government’s authority, it said.

Justin Chiu Kwok-hung, executive director of Cheung Kong Asset Holdings, which signed the latest industry statement as well as the previous one last week, stressed that the association is always against violence, adding that such protest tactics are not the best way to solve problems.

Three heavyweight developers — Sun Hung Kai Properties, New World Development and Henderson Land Development — issued separate statements individually on Tuesday calling on protesters to stop using violence to express their opinions, and expressing their support for the chief executive, the government and the police.

Sun Hung Kai Properties reiterated the importance of communication and dialogue between the government and protesters, saying it is the only way to resolve problems.

The developer warned that if the current unrest persists, hundreds of thousands of people working in the hotel and retail sectors will be seriously affected, putting at risk the livelihood and well-being of their families.

New World Development said in its statement that it is worried and saddened to see the increasingly violent incidents in society in the past two months.

If citizens have any demands, they should put them forward in a peaceful and rational manner without any violation of the law, the developer added.

Henderson Land, on its part, warned that Hong Kong would pass the point of no return if the current chaotic situation continues.

Hong Kong’s status as an international finance center and its reputation for being safe city have come under threat in the wake of the recent series of violent incidents, the property firm said.

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