Lighthouse lobby group vetoes urban planning consultation paper

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Issue 469, Page 3
Word count: 635
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

A local Guia Lighthouse lobby group said yesterday the consultation paper of the Urban Planning Conceptual Framework was of “low quality” and also urged the government to announce updates of the high rise building construction off Mount Guia.

The Concern Group for the Protection of the Guia Lighthouse, which sent an appeal letter to UNESCO in November last year requesting interference to the 126-metre residential building construction in Calcada do Gaio, deemed the Conceptual Framework’s current consultation paper as having “vague positioning and objectives as well as lacking supporting theories which fail to convince people that the SAR government has the ability and determination to protect world heritage and facilitate urban planning in Macau”.

Speaking at the press conference yesterday, the spokesman of the Concern Group, Tong Yuen, said the Conceptual Framework on urban planning did not put residents’ interest and needs as being the first priority which should be the “foundation” of a city’s development.

“The consultation paper is a failure and doesn’t even reach high school standards. The content has no room for public discussion but is only a matter of either agree or disagree,” Mr Yuen said.

Criticising the research conclusion as “naive”, the Concern Group told the media presenting a “defective” consultation paper for a large scale public consultation was a “large waste of public resources”.

On the other hand, Mr Yuen and other group members said that profiles of the three chiefs of the Research Centre for Sustainable Development Strategies had never been disclosed and the government did not inform the public about how the work team was formed.

“Quality urban planning needs outstanding talent with professional training and relevant experience. Knowing that the three research centre chiefs are PhD holders, the public have no idea what their expertise and backgrounds are,” Mr Yuen said.

Pointing out that urban planning is a long-term and influential project, the Concern Group said while the present Chief Executive will finish his term next year, the government should not have already fixed the future positioning of Macau as a gaming and tourism city.

Mr Yuen said the government should instead put more effort into improving residents’ living standards such as insufficient bus services and public housing, deteriorating public security, issues related to imported labour and also the damage of world heritage views which are the “primary issues” of Macau society at the moment.

Not only did the consultation paper fail to look at improvement of Macau’s external transport system such as aviation liberalisation and expansion of the airport and immigration checkpoints, the group’s spokesman said it also ignored the problems of corruption and faulty government administration which were usually “the causes of many social problems”.

In addition, Chan Tak Seng, a member of the Concern Group, said only when the skyscraper construction in the south western slope of Mount Guia was resolved, would the public have faith in the government to talk about urban planning.

Although the construction has already been halted now, Mr Chan said no government departments were trying to stop the construction which was continued after the Chief Executive ordered in April that building height limits in that area should not exceed 52.5 metres.

And therefore the unfinished building now stood at about 80 metre high, just 10 metres lower than the Guia Lighthouse, Mr Chan said.

“Does it mean that a scale down will only be done when the government pays the developer compensation? The government shouldn’t have approved the construction in the first place and now it has to be settled by using taxpayers’ money,” he added.

The Concern Group urged the government to release information about negotiations with the developer regarding compensation and the progress of scaling down the skyscraper.

Mr Yuen said the Concern Group’s opinions will be emailed to the Research Centre at a later date.

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