With the Chinese New Year celebrations underway, my fourth week at the Lion Rock Institute ended attending an event on public housing policy. The Chatham House rule meeting was a debate among top stakeholders in the industry including public officials, economists, think tanks and the private sector. I was given the task of taking notes to be used in compiling a report for all stakeholders of the meeting.
The debate was really interesting as those attending were not limited to only free market advocates. This led to a well balanced discussion. I came away having learned much more about the issues and possible solutions to Hong Kong’s public housing difficulties.
This week I also started a side project looking into a widely reported problem that SME and startups are having difficulties in opening a bank account here in Hong Kong. To establish if this is a problem unique to Hong Kong I contacted local firms and professionals to gain a consensus. Word on the street is that this is a serious issue here, more so then in other global finance centers.
Banks have cited new global regulations to fight money laundering and terrorist financing as the source of this issue. Reading up on regulations has been eye opening to see the regulatory risks banks face in simply opening a new account. However, my research continues to identify any regulation unique to Hong Kong that is creating a barrier to obtaining banking services.
It is not irregular to see political activists set up stands in busy shopping precincts and with microphone in hand address those walking by. Some of these are very radical and it is a testament to Hong Kong’s strong freedom of speech that they are not shut down! On a more conservative note, my new friend Laurence and I enjoyed lunch at a trendy Japanese bar midweek. With conversation ranging from the contemporary politics and markets to personal banter, it’s the little experiences like these that really make you feel part of Hong Kong!
As the New Year long weekend kicks off it’s a great time to reflect on the first half of my time here at the Lion Rock Institute. I cannot thank Ron Manners and everyone at the Mannkal Foundation enough for the opportunity to be here. The Mannkal scholarship has been truly enriching experience and I look forwards to another four weeks at the Lion Rock Institute!