Timing just not right for ‘mini-HK’; It is no secret that Leung Chun-ying wants to expand Hong Kong’s reach in the Pearl River Delta region.

Timing just not right for ‘mini-HK’
Mary Ma
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
It is no secret that Leung Chun-ying wants to expand Hong Kong’s reach in the Pearl River Delta region.
Even before being elected chief executive, he talked about how the SAR could play a bigger role in the mainland.
Thus, when it was reported the government was studying the possibility of leasing land in Nansha or Hengqin to build a “mini-Hong Kong” to allow industries to expand, it didn’t surprise many people in political circles.

What did surprise them was the timing of the media leak. Why did it come to light so soon?
It’s as simple as ABC in politics that if a sensitive issue is expose prematurely, it will likely backfire, or even be aborted.
In dealing with matters involving other governments, it usually starts with sensitive talks. The National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference meetings, recently concluded in Beijing, would have been a convenient occasion to exchange views first, while letting the necessary pieces come together.
If the media leak has achieved anything, it would be the plan’s derailment. Who knows if that wasn’t the purpose.
In hindsight, it’s plausible there were disagreements within the government and Leung may still hold onto the ideas, although the administration insisted the media report was inaccurate, and most of the ideas were found to be infeasible.
The government issued two statements on Monday. The first one said it would not implement Hong Kong laws in Nansha or Hengqin, had no plans to lease land, and had not put any ideas to a committee for study. It was a technical denial.
In the second statement – issued hours later – it admitted the ideas had been studied.
The two-part response didn’t cast the government in a good light, since it showed it had something to hide in the first place. It was undoubtedly angry with the leak. By issuing a technical denial, it may still wish to protect the sensitive ideas from maximum damage. But as the hours passed, it became clear the damage was already done.
Given the current state of affairs in Hong Kong, there was simply no condition – politically or socially – for an administration of weak governance to achieve the ambitious plan.
As matters stand in the SAR, even a small step to change green belts for residential use is a challenge. It’s pitiful.
Across the Pearl River estuary, Macau is already looking beyond Hengqin – where land has been secured from Zhuhai for education and industrial use – setting its sights on Nansha and Zhongshan for cooperation, similar to what it has achieved in Hengqin.
Leung, as well as Macau’s Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on, must be aware that land is precious for economic success.
If conditions don’t exist for implementing a dream plan now, does it mean there won’t be suitable conditions in the future?
It’s an open question.
But the timing isn’t right at present. Beijing couldn’t be in the proper mood to give the same gift to Hong Kong – although the central government has dished out so such to Macau.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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