Residents protest against LV Sands for “abandoning Macau”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Issue 591, Page 6
Word count: 512
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

A group of around 50 “concerned residents” are collecting signatures to go with the petition which will be submitted to the Macau government against Las Vegas Sands Corp. for allegedly having diverted profits earned in the SAR to fund its Singapore project.

The Concerned Residents Group began staging a forum at the Grand Emperor Hotel yesterday where they called for local people to voice out their dissatisfaction towards LV Sands Corp. for “having suspended Parcels 5 and 6 on the Cotai Strip and given priority to its new casino project in Singapore over Macau”.

Signatures will also be collected from participants who wish to show support to the group’s action.

However, William Weidner, the President and Chief Operating Officer of LV Sands Corp., when attending a public event in Macau last Tuesday denied the suggestion that the company “took money away from Macau and invested it somewhere else”.

“All our earnings in Macau have stayed in Macau and were matched five times over by additional investments in Macau,” Weidner said last week.

“The suspension of Parcels 5 and 6 were a direct outcome of the global credit crisis which has affected the company’s investments not only in Macau, but has also resulted in the suspension of several projects in the United States,” he added.

Coordinator of the Concerned Residents Group, Ip Kim Fong, said in a press conference yesterday that the main reason for them to stand up was that “the massive earnings LV Sands Corp. had made in Macau were shifted to Singapore”.

“This resulted in the suspension of works in Macau and will eventually create adverse competition between Macau and Singapore. After that more local people will become jobless,” Mr Ip said.

Having held the exercise at the Grand Emperor Hotel, Mr Ip however denied that they were backed up by Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM), one of the major competitors of LV Sands Corp. in the SAR.

The group, formed by “local residents who have had their salaries cut, lost their jobs or are concerned about Macau”, are urging the Nevada-based casino resort company to “finish its obligations committed to Macau people”.

Meanwhile, Mr Ip said the SAR government had to investigate whether LV Sands Corp. had violated the terms and conditions committed upon the grants of land concessions on the Cotai Strip as well as the casino operating sub-concession.

Hence, Mr Ip said their aims were to push the Macau government to “use its power to stop the American company from diverting funds to Singapore and also to accelerate resumption of Parcels 5 and 6 expansions”.

If LV Sands Corp. fails to meet their demands, Mr Ip said the government should “review its agreements with the company and take steps to terminate the land and other concessions granted, and also re-tender or sell such land openly in order to protest the economic interests of Macau people”.

Mr Ip said after the public forum is ended on Thursday, the petition, along with all the signatures collected, will be handed in to the Chief Executive and the Legislative Assembly.

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