Monday, March 30, 2009

Not Scarface, It's Stockface

Whenever there's a financial downturn in Hong Kong, the local newspapers will be filled with articles and reports of suicides stemming from losses in the stock/property market or work pressures. Isn't that a common phenomenom all over the world? I guess it is. But I suspect that the ratio of suicides vs overall population in HK will be higher as compared to most countries in the world. Here's a few reasons why I think so:

1) Speculative population
Nearly every Hongkonger I know has some experience in the stock market. Some are still being tied down with HSBC shares bought at HKD100+. Last I checked its approx. HKD44 for a share. A loss of at least HKD20k/lot. Others have a second property bought before the financial crisis at HKD14k/sqft (approx. S$2700/sqft) with current valuation @ half that amount (For a 1000sqft property, that's like a HKD7mil/SGD1.35mil loss). For the speculators who bought the property, no one wants to buy their property at HKD14k anymore, and they will have difficulties financing the mortgage.

2) Chinese population
Chinese love their face (面子). Lose money, lose job, lose face. Pride prevents them from borrowing. Prevents them from declaring themselves bankrupt. And more often than not they choose death over disgrace.

3) Environment
Hong Kong is an urban city with tall buildings and loud noises. If I were to lose alot of money or jobs, I would really like to find a quiet place and calm down. Unfortunately its a really difficult task if you stay in the middle of the city. More often than not I find myself surrounded by loud people even when I spend good money on a fine restaurant. No point finding a quiet Cha Can Teng... it's impossible.

Hunger and the lack of money won't kill a person (unless one borrow from loansharks). Most of the time its the pride that drives man to desperation. While millions in Africa struggle to breathe another day with whatever food they get, we get many in the developed world choosing suicide over declaring bankrupt.

君可杀不可辱 - Not sure if I got this correct but I guess this is the saying that's going through those with suicidal thoughts. I can really really relate to this phrase in many aspects but I think suicide is a stupid option. There are many who strive to live another day, happy to see the next sunrise. And as a human being, beats the millions of money-slaves in this world.

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