World

Parking space in Hong Kong sold for $1.3 million

HONG KONG Hong Kong might be heading for a recession after violent protests but that has not stopped a single parking space from changing hands for almost US$1 million (S$1.3 million).

The mind-boggling sum paid to businessman Johnny Cheung Shun Yee highlights the gap in equality that has helped fuel nearly five months of demonstrations in the financial hub, where one in five people live below the poverty line.

The HK$7.6 million (S$1.3 million) price tag is more than 30 times the average annual wage in Hong Kong and about the same as a one-bedroom condominium unit in Singapore's Orchardarea.

It is situated in The Centre, which hit the headlines in October 2017 when it became the world's most expensive office building after Hong Kong's richest man sold it for more than US$5 billion. The economy has been tipped to grow just 0 per cent to 1 percent this year, the worst rate since 2009 during the global financial crisis.

"A lot of owners in The Centre are in finance or other high-growth businesses," said Mr Stanley Poon, a managing director at Centaline Commercial property agency.

"To these tycoons, it is not a significant purchase if you compare it with the value of the office floors they own."

Hong Kong's white-hot property market has become a political issue as costs continue to soar, forcing some small businesses to close owing to sky-high rents while many residents cannot afford to buy or lease decent homes.

Commercial and residential property prices have been fuelled by an influx of money from wealthy investors and developers from China. - AFP

WORLD