A Closer Look at Macau

Ron Tam - Executive Officer, HKJA.

Macau is so close and yet so far to find out some facts about it. Like, do you know how many Hongkongers have become Macau residents, too? Did you know that while the Hong Kong government says that prisoners have not been given the right to vote because of technical problems, prisoners in Macau have been voting for almost a decade? The 19 reporters who participated in a recent tour of Macau know the facts now and some may even have reported this through the media outlets they serve.

This tour was arranged by the Government Information Bureau of Macau. Meetings were arranged with the Rector of Universidade de Macau, Professor Zhao Wei; Chefe do Departamento de Segurança Social, Social Security Fund Leong Lun Lai; Chefe da Divisão de Contribuições, Social Security Fund Chan Pou I, Head of Department of Research and Planning, Social Welfare Bureau Cheong Wai Fan, Head of Department of Organization and Information, Identification Services Bureau Elsie Ao Leong U and Director of Macao Prison, Lee Kam Cheong. After the exchange of views, members of the tour had a deeper understanding of the social benefits system, the Cash-sharing Scheme, the preventive measures of gambling addicts adopted or under consideration of the Macau authorities and other social welfare issues.

One of the prime objectives of the tour was to learn more about the rent of an area of 100 hectares for 12 billion Macau dollars for the relocation of the University of Macau. It was learnt that Hengqin Island, which lies 200 to 300 meters away from Macau over the sea, where the university will be located and managed is a closed area which may be turned into a special district for recreation and culture. It is worth considering whether it will be a model for future development and cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

On cultural preservation and promotion Macau government’s efforts are outstanding. One example is the number of historical areas in Macau which were listed as World Heritage sites long before Hong Kong gave this any thought. The reporters were amazed by the subsidies the Macau government gives to the preservation and promotion of traditional culture. Its policy of “protection first, reasonable use, widespread excavation and participation by all” may be a good reference for Hong Kong reporters when they cover related news in the future.

The tour was the result of a meeting among JA Executive Committee members and the Government Information Bureau of Macau. Should you have any new ideas, please feel free to bring it up with us.