Assembly “not satisfied” with Secretary Chan’s responses

Thursday, April 24, 2008
Issue 323, Page 2
Word count: 745
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Secretary for Administration and Justice, Florinda da Rosa Silva Chan, was yesterday remarked upon by the Legislative Assembly’s president for her “ambiguous response” to lawmakers’ questions regarding the accountability system for top officials’ delinquency.

Secretary Chan attended the Assembly’s plenary meeting yesterday to address lawmakers’ oral interpellations in relation to the area of public servants.

Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io also presented at the plenary meeting to respond to lawmaker Au Kam San’s interpellation about the 500-hectare reclamation project in the peninsula and Taipa and another one of some 20 square-kilometres that reportedly would take place some time in the future.

Both lawmakers Ng Kuok Cheong and Kwan Tsui Hang demanded a response from the government in terms of their prolonged delays in carrying out a reform for the General Clauses monitoring the middle and top level civil servants’ accountability for their administrative wrongdoing.

Secretary Chan, however, only gave repeated answers of what the government had done to improve after such as the unjustified cost overruns for the East Asian Games’ facilities construction and operation as well as the corruption scandal of Ao Man Long.

She admitted that the SAR government had no prior experience of managing large-scale sports event when hosting the East Asian Games and thus “supervision was insufficient” which caused the over-budget of millions of patacas.

But after the reports produced by the Audit Commission, the Secretary said the government had learnt from the experience and the success of the following Lusofonia Games and Asian Indoor Games “proved that the government could accept criticism and then carry out changes”.

As well, she said the government had “reacted immediately” to the Ao Man Long case including working with the Legislative Assembly to improve the public construction concession system and setting up the consultation committee for land concession.

The Secretary also pointed out that the Chief Executive had the ultimate control of whether or not to renew top government officials’ contracts if they were deemed no longer being qualified for their jobs.

President of the Assembly, Susana Chou, told the Secretary more than once during the meeting that her response failed to address the lawmakers’ questions and was about details that every lawmakers had already known.

Due to the time limit for each interpellation, the meeting moved on to the next issue posed by Jose Pereira Coutinho regarding the quality and effectiveness of the vocational training courses provided by the government for public servants.

Director of the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau (SAFP), Jose Chu, told the Assembly that result of the training courses was very positive which was shown in the responses given by the trained staff’s heads.

Secretary Chan also said that research was under way with Singapore for launching a training centre for civil servants and courses would be designed according to the actual demands of society.

Mr Coutinho, however, was not satisfied with the government response and asked if the training was of high quality, “why so many senior officials and public servants denied any knowledge or memory for things they should have known when giving testimonies during the trial of Ao Man Long?”.

Secretary Lau Si Io attended with his cabinet for the last session at the Assembly meeting and addressed the issue raised concerning the reclamation project which would create “another Macau of the same size”.

The Secretary told the Assembly that the 500 hectare (or five square-kilometre) reclamation was originated from the 398 hectare reclamation project proposed to the Chinese central government in 2006 and was still waiting for the approval.

The size was increased according to instructions from Beijing and environmental concerns, he added.

Five different reclamation areas would be located in the east of the Macau peninsula, south of Avenida Dr Sun Yat-Sen in Nape and the north of Taipa.

Zone A will cover 140.7 hectares and be developed into a community-oriented district including residential and commercial buildings as well as major green lands and public facilities.

Zone B in Nape will occupy 50.7 hectares and be planned for government departments, road expansions and green zone purposes.

Northern Taipa will be divided into Zones C, D, and E with a total reclamation area of 301 hectares planned for housing, public institutes, resorts and tourism development.

As for the 20 square-kilometre reclamation project whose size equals to almost the whole of Macau, Secretary Lau once again denied the rumour at the Assembly after affirming this to local media early this month.

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