A-Ma’s Sichuan donor pulls out after “bad press”

Saturday, June 28, 2008
Issue 388, Page 4
Word count: 515
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

A donor who was going to support an A-Ma Temple gift of school materials for Sichuan students has pulled out after an article questioned the legitimacy and character of its president.

President of the temple’s temporary management board, Francisco Lam, said yesterday he will take legal action against the “false allegations” in a cover story of a Hong Kong-based Chinese magazine, “East Week”, issued in Macau this week.

The weekly magazine reports that Mr Lam “lost the lawsuit over the legal management right of the UNESCO listed world heritage temple, was assaulted by a group of people and seriously injured, owed a huge debt and sold the land parcel on which the temple is located”.

Mr Lam’s association, “Cheng Kuoc Sim Lam”, also known as “Ma-Kuoc Mio” or “Ma Cho Kuoc”, is currently fighting with the 2006/2007 management board for the legal right to chair the A-Ma Temple.

The lawsuit is still proceeding, however the court has authorised “Cheng Kuoc Sim Lam”, the 2008/2009 management board, to take control of the temple until the final verdict is handed out, Mr Lam said.

The current administrator said during a press conference held in the temple yesterday that he suspected it was a “conspiracy” organised by “someone” who wanted to “affect the verdict, destroy his image and get rid of him from the management council”.

“I’m just an ordinary citizen in Macau, not a celebrity or a star, I really don’t know why they put me on the cover page,” Mr Lam said.

“I heard that A-Ma Temple owns a lot of assets but the ex-president never handed me any of the documents because he doesn’t want me to find out how much property he had sold for his own interest and where the past 30 years of public offerings have gone,” he added.

“Public offerings are for helping people, not for anyone to put inside their pockets.”

Mr Lam accused the magazine reporter of being a “screenwriter” and having no ethics.

“The magazine didn’t tell the truth. If you write something, of course you will need evidence to support your points, but they don’t have any,” he said, adding legal action must be taken in order to prove the allegations against him are “false”.

Mr Lam said not only does the article effect Macau’s image and A-Ma Temple’s reputation, but the only sponsor for the association’s donation activity to Sichuan decided to withdraw after reading the cover story that describes Mr Lam as a “bad guy”.

“Cheng Kuock Sim Lam” planned to give away 50,000 sets of school bags and stationery to students in quake-hit Sichuan before schools started in September, according to Mr Lam, but the trip has now been called off despite of his efforts to find a new supplier in the mainland during the past month.

“A-Ma Temple is listed as a world heritage and no one can sell the land it is on,” he said, “although I’m the chairman of the association, I don’t have all the power and everything I do I still need to get the approvals from other members.”

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