HK$24.5m for one-bedroom flat sets record

Yvonne Liu
SCMP Sep 15, 2009

A one-bedroom flat in a luxury development in Tsim Sha Tsui has fetched a whopping HK$30,025 per sq ft, setting a record in Hong Kong.

A Hong Kong businessman who owns a trading firm has paid HK$24.5 million for an 816 sq ft flat on the 56th floor of The Masterpiece for his own use, according to Centaline Property Agency, which concluded the deal. The price is a record for a one-bedroom flat.

The useable area of the apartment is just 590 sq ft, similar to flats in mass residential projects.

Thomas Chan, Centaline sales director, said the buyer was willing to pay the high price because the flat offered views of Victoria Harbour and was centrally located.

In 2007, the average price of one-bedroom flats at The Arch, above Kowloon Station, was HK$17,000 per sq ft.

The 64-storey The Masterpiece in Hanoi Road was developed by New World Development and the Urban Renewal Authority.

It is the second-tallest residential building in Hong Kong after The Cullinan, above Kowloon Station.

The one-bedroom flat is the smallest unit in the project.

“The buyer could get a second-hand luxury flat with at least 1,500 sq ft and three bedrooms in Mid-Levels” for the price, said Koh Keng-shing, managing director at Landscope Surveyors and Landscope Realty.

Even though average prices at housing estates such as Taikoo Shing are still down from their 1997 peak, property agents said luxury residential prices had already exceeded their 1997 levels. The city’s most expensive flat is a 7,088 sq ft unit at Branksome Crest in Mid-Levels, which sold for HK$240 million, or HK$39,786 per sq ft, in December 2007.

Flats previously peaked at about HK$20,000 per sq ft in 1997, Koh said.

The most expensive residential property in the city is a 3,300 sq ft house at 8 Severn Road on The Peak, which sold for HK$285 million, or HK$56,800 per sq ft, in June last year, making it the most expensive residential dwelling in Hong Kong and also Asia.

The new luxury developments in non-traditional luxury residential areas such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Kowloon Station are fetching higher prices than apartments in Mid-Levels and other high-end residential areas.

“Those projects have attracted new demand from mainland buyers and local investors, not the local end-users,” Tsang said. “Some of the projects are overpriced. It may be risky for the buyers.”

Tsang had confidence in the market outlook for luxury residential developments in traditional luxury areas as the supply was expected to remain low in the next few years.

Pen Shops in Hong Kong

Montblanc Meisterstück 146

Hop Cheong Pens & Lighters Co.
G/F., 111 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong.
Tel.:2544-2197, 2543-3689

Winner Pens Collection
萬宜大廈商場 110 號
Man Yee Arcade, Shop 110
68 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong.
Tel.: 2710-8802

Feng Yuan Co
G 21, Houston Centre,Tsimshatsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong
好時中心 G21 店
Tel : 2366 1703
Fax : 2724 3906

Pen Gallery
G25, Star House, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
星光行 G25 店
Tel / Fax : 2375 8178

名筆館 Pens Museum
灣仔 : 香港灣仔港灣道1號會展廣場1樓101C號舖
Wanchai : Shop 101C, 1/F., Shopping arcade, Convention Plaza,
1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel. : 2511 1832

尖沙咀: 九龍尖沙咀廣東道33號中港城商場UG層95號舖
Tsim Sha Tsui : Shop no 95, UG/F., China Hong Kong City, 33 Canton Road.,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel. : 2151 0818

九龍灣: 德褔廣場II期318舖
Kowloon Bay: Shop 318, Telford Plaza Phase II, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel. : 2305 1955

沙田: 連城廣場K3舖(火車站樓上)
Shatin : K3, Citylink Plaza, KCRC House, New Territories, Hong Kong.
Tel. : 2681 0301

Nice Pen Company
Shop East of G/F, Two Grand Tower, 625 Nathan Road, Mongkok, Kowloon.

Casablanca Co
尖沙咀 海防道 54A (MTR A1 清真寺出口 )
54A, Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. (MTR A1 Exit)
Tel. 2311-3212

Kwong Lan Pen Company
Shop A6, 285 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Tel: 2544 2317

Chun Kee Stationery Co. Ltd
G/F, 11 Lock Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.
Tel.: 2739 3960

Yuen Kee
SHOP NO. F14-15, 1/F.
Luk Yeung Sun Chuen Shopping Centre,
Tsuen Wan, New Territories.

Chung Nam Book & Stationery Co. Ltd.
G/F, 2Q Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Tel: 2384 2430


Lost Tribe – Gamemaster (Signum Remix)

One of the best trance songs ever, from the 1999 album, Deeper Shades of Hooj.

Embracing the Goddess energy within yourselves
Will bring all of you to a new understanding and value of life
A vision that inspires you to live and love on Planet Earth
Like a priceless jewel, buried in dark layers of soil and stone
Earth radiates her brilliant beauty, into the caverns of space and time
Perhaps you are aware of those who watch over your home
And experience it as a place to visit and play with reality
You are becoming aware of yourself
As a Gamemaster

Imagine earth restored to her real beauty
Steady trees seems to brush the deep blue sky
The clouds billow to form the majestic peaks
The songs of birds fill the air
Create a symphony on symphony
The Goddess is calling for an honouring of what she allows to be created through the form of strength and blood
Those who own our planet, are learning about love

Goldman Says Deleveraging May Keep Fed Rate Low for ‘Years’

Goldman Says Deleveraging May Keep Fed Rate Low for ‘Years’
By Simon Kennedy

Sept. 10 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve may keep interest rates low for “many years” to help U.S. consumers and companies as they pare back debt, according to economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Sluggish spending as households reduce debt could lop as much as 2 percentage points from U.S. economic growth over the next three years, New York-based economists Peter Berezin and Alex Kelston wrote in a report released late yesterday. While not enough to threaten a long-term recovery, it may require the Fed to offset the weakness by keeping its benchmark rate unchanged through 2010, they said.

“It is hard to escape the conclusion that the Fed may need to maintain fairly low interest rates over a period of many years,” wrote Berezin and Kelston. “If you want to bring down leverage, you should keep monetary policy sufficiently accommodative to forestall a collapse in spending and a deflationary spiral.”

The Fed’s key rate is now near zero as it fights the worst recession since World War II. Keeping U.S. rates there until 2011 may represent an “attractive buying opportunity” for U.S. bonds and threaten to inflate asset bubbles in economies that tie their currency to the dollar, the Goldman economists said.

While leverage has already started declining as banks strengthen their balance sheets, the process of reversing private credit may take much longer and is only in its early stages, according to the report. One consequence is likely to be an increase in household savings and subsequent decline in consumption as a share of gross domestic product after it averaged 70 percent in the past decade, compared with 65 percent in the previous four decades, the authors said.

Historical Average

Reverting to its historical average will imply consumption growth lags behind overall GDP expansion by about 85 basis points per year, Goldman said. Beyond the next three years, that will be enough to shave the economy’s growth by as much as 1 percentage point, it said.

While many forecasters project the Fed will raise rates next year, the Goldman economists said their expectation that the Fed will hold fire may benefit bonds. Keeping borrowing costs low may also mean economies that peg their exchange rates to the dollar may ‘end up with interest rates that are too low for too long, thus raising the possibility that asset bubbles will develop,’’ they said.

In addition to low interest rates, other support for the U.S. economy will come from companies slowing the rate of inventory reduction and increased exports to emerging markets, as well as government spending, according to the report.

Outside the U.S., the economists said those economies that weathered the financial crisis relatively well, such as Australia and Norway, will be able to raise interest rates sooner than the U.S. Investment in those economies with more leverage such as the U.K. and Spain will recover more slowly than those with less debt, such as Germany and Japan, they said.

HK recovering from global recession, says FS

HK recovering from global recession, says FS
Regina Leung and Agence France-Presse
Updated on Sep 08, 2009

Hong Kong’s economy was slowly recovering from the global recession, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said on Tuesday at the opening of the Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress.

Tsang, who opened the three-day exposition at the AsiaWorld-Expo venue on Lantau Island, was upbeat about the economy.

“Recent economic data indicates that economies – including Hong Kong’s – are emerging from a severe recession, and are preparing for take off,” he said.

Tsang noted that the aviation sector had been hard hit by fluctuating fuel prices, cancelled or delayed orders, and falls in customers, cargo and profits.

But it was also an ideal time for the industry to explore new technologies and strategies to improve efficiency and reduce costs, he said.

“Asia, in particular China, is one of the world’s fastest growing regions for air transportation, with growing demand for aircraft and related equipment and services.

“This presents huge opportunities for all parties inside and outside the aviation industry,” Tsang said.

He said Hong Kong was an ideal place to host the expo as it had one of the world’s busiest airports.

“The city’s aviation network covers 150 destinations worldwide, including 40 mainland cities. Everyday, the Hong Kong International Airport handles more than 800 inbound and outbound flights,” he said.

The biennial meeting is hailed as one of the world’s most influential air shows. It was moved from Singapore to Hong Kong in 2007 to be closer to mainland, now one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets.

“It’s the first time that China has put a face in front of the global aviation industry,” said Richard Thiele of Reed Exhibitions.

Thiele, Reed’s head of sales for aerospace and aviation, said despite world airlines being hurt by the global downturn, 10,000 visitors and 356 firms are expected to take part in Asian Aerospace.

Chinese media reports have estimated that the country’s airlines would need a total of 1,600 new passenger jets by the year 2020 and 3,000 by 2050, at a cost of billions of dollars.

Legal luminary Cashin dies at 89

Legal luminary Cashin dies at 89
Ex-Rugby Union president had colon cancer
By Carolyn Quek, Teh Joo Lin & Terrence Voon

ONE of Singapore’s longest-serving lawyers – who took on the inquiry into the 1983 Sentosa cable car tragedy and the sensational Adrian Lim murder trial – died early on Thursday morning after a long battle with cancer.

Mr Howard Edmund Cashin, 89, had practised law here for more than 50 years. So passionate was he about his profession that he spent almost every day in court, said his widow, Mrs Lily Cashin, 53.

Outside the courtroom, he pursued his other passions – rugby and cricket – and was the Singapore Rugby Union’s (SRU) president between 1977 and 1987.

Speaking to The Straits Times at their bungalow in Sarimbun, near Lim Chu Kang, Mrs Cashin said he retired from law practice after contracting colon cancer in 2003.

The cancer went into remission in 2007 after intensive treatment, but resurfaced late last year. Mr Cashin decided to forgo treatment and the cancer took its toll, but he remained mentally alert, even during his last days.

Though he was bedridden when his wife told him the English cricket team had won The Ashes test series, he cried: ‘Oh, that’s wonderful.’

Mr Cashin read law at Oxford and returned to Singapore after World War II. He spent many illustrious years at law firm Murphy & Dunbar.

Dr Myint Soe, 75, a partner with the firm for many years, said he was a meticulous lawyer who excelled at cross-examining witnesses, ‘especially those who were not telling the truth’.

High Court judge Choo Han Teck, 55, once Mr Cashin’s assistant, said he was effective in court because he understood human nature well.

‘He was able to get witnesses to say things they should say – not an easy thing to do in court,’ said Justice Choo.

While he was SRU president, Mr Cashin slapped a life ban on local rugby star Song Koon Poh for flouting the rules. Now 55, Mr Song, says he has no hard feelings towards the man who he feels took Singapore rugby to new heights. ‘He was also the only man to give local rugby a chance then. His passing is a great loss,’ said Mr Song.

The China Tea Club

Get the brew down to a tea

Interest in traditional Chinese tea-making techniques is stirring again as a new generation learns to appreciate the art, writes Winnie Chung

AN ANCIENT Chinese proverb insists it is ‘better to go without food for three days, than tea for one’. While the hungry may disagree, it illustrates how integral a part of Chinese life those parched and shrivelled leaves are.

According to Chinese legends, the drink was ‘discovered’ by a mythical emperor named Shen Nong, who was known as the Divine Cultivator and the Divine Farmer, in the year 2700BC. Shen Nong had been sitting in the shade of a tea plant boiling water, when a breeze blew some leaves into the pot.

When he drank the infusion, he was amazed at its fragrance and how invigorated he felt. The emperor recommended it to his subjects, noting the beverage gave vigour to the body, contentment to the mind and determination of purpose . . . and the rest is truly history.

Yet, partly because of the depth of its history, the art of drinking tea has become somewhat lost amid the hustle and bustle of modern living. And it shouldn’t be this way, claims one tea expert.

‘Foreigners often pay more attention to our culture than we do ourselves, because we sometimes take things for granted,’ says Eliza Liu Tse-fong, chairperson of the International Chinese Tea Club and co-chairman of charitable organisation, Teaism Alliance Hong Kong. ‘Tea has a special place in our lives. You can find it at the most elaborate and grand ceremonies and you can find it at very casual gatherings so it is quite an intimate friend.

‘You can learn a lot from drinking tea. It’s not just a matter of brewing the tea; it also helps cultivate tastes and culture as well as improve dispositions.’

The Tea Club caters only to its 1,000-plus members and has a 200,000 square foot farm in Fanling where it cultivated its own strains of Hong Kong oolong and Hong Kong longqing.

The club also runs a tea shop in Mongkok (Jabbok Tea Shop, tel: 2761 9133) and holds regular tea preparation and appreciation classes for the public.

Liu is delighted that more youngsters are showing interest in learning the art of tea appreciation – the club’s membership is on the rise, as are the number of tea shops in the city.

‘When tourists go to Taiwan or Japan, they often remark on how good the tea tastes. I think it is time to show tourists that Hong Kong also has good teas,’ she says.

What makes a good tea, and what is the right tea for the right occasion? Although we may know what kind of wine we want with a meal, and from which country, how often have we walked into a Chinese restaurant only to be stumped when the waiter asks what tea we want?

Liu says it is not difficult to make a choice, if we know the basic teas as we do wines. ‘They’re quite similar cultures really,’ adds Liu, who learned the art from tea master Yip Wai-man.

‘When you think of wines, you think about the origin of the wine, the weather of the area it came from, and the different aromas. When you drink wine, you look at the colour, you smell it and then you taste it. The same thing goes for tea,’ Liu says.

Just as we might order different wines to accompany different courses, similarly, there is no reason to drink just one kind of tea throughout a meal. Liu advises that for most Chinese meals, it is better to start off with a light tea such as jasmine (heung pin) or a lighter blend of Iron Goddess of Mercy (tieguanyin).

‘Anything stronger might affect the taste of the food later,’ she says. However, at the end of the meal – especially a heavy one – a strong, heavier brew such as pu’erh will help with digestion.

Teas can cost anything from several dollars to several hundred dollars an ounce, but expensive tea leaves don’t necessarily guarantee a good drink. The art of brewing, water temperature and the kind of paraphernalia used play a vital role.

‘The person brewing the tea is very important. If you have someone who doesn’t know how to brew, it doesn’t matter how expensive the tea is. But if he or she does, then they can bring out the aromas even in cheaper teas,’ says Liu. The key is to look at what kind of tea one is drinking, she adds. Chinese tea comes in five main categories: black/red, oolong, green, white and scented. The most popular belong to the first three categories, except perhaps jasmine which belongs the scented family.

‘Different categories of teas are best brewed with different pots and served in different cups. Black teas such as pu’erh, for instance, are best brewed in the bigger pots and served in bigger cups so the aroma can escape better. You also need to use boiling water to get the full aroma,’ says Liu.

‘Oolong teas, such as tieguanyin, are already quite aromatic so you don’t need big cups for them. However, because their leaves are usually balled up and will expand quite a lot when they are brewed, it is best to use a deeper pot and water temperature should be about 36.6 degrees Celsius.

‘Green teas don’t expand as much so the pots used for brewing that is more shallow. Ideal water temperature for green teas is between 24 degrees Celsius and 26 degrees Celsius.’

While she speaks, Liu heats the water, then pours it into the leaves in the pot. After it brews for a minute, she pours the liquid into a large cup. From there, she divides it into smaller tea cups and hands them to those assembled, ensuring the first and last cups of tea are of equal strength.

While it would be ideal to have different pots for each tea we drink, Liu acknowledges it is impractical. Even with a normal mug and tea strainer in the office, one can still make a cup to tempt colleagues’ taste buds.

‘Just make sure the water temperature is right and make sure the tea isn’t allowed to steep more than a minute or so. After you make the first brew, you can cover the leaves and strainer to maintain its aroma. That way you can brew it several times.’