Police not tolerant to drink driving, arson: security secretary

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Issue 679, Page 5
Word count: 796
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The numbers of drink driving and car accidents in Macau have decreased after the new Road Traffic Law came into effect in October 2007, the Secretary for Security said at the legislature yesterday.

In response to lawmaker Leong Heng Teng’s inquiry into the government’s efforts in tackling drink driving and arson, Cheong Kuoc Va said more drivers received alcohol breath tests but lesser of them exceeded the limit when comparing the years before and after the Road Traffic Law was implemented.

Between October 2006 and September 2007, 15,394 drivers had their alcohol levels checked, and 1,027 of them found to have drunk more than the law allowed.

In contrast, between October 2007 and September 2008, the numbers went up to 18,584 and down to 883 respectively.

The security secretary also said that 4,621 alcohol breath tests were conducted in the first quarter of this year.

Of these, 207 exceeded the statutory standard including 85 drivers having been sent to the Public Prosecutions Office.

Meanwhile, during the year before the Road Traffic Law was in force, there were a total of 14,216 traffic accidents, with 20 people having lost their lives.

But a year later the number of car accidents dropped by 3.29 percent to 13,749, while the death toll also fell by 40 percent to 12 persons.

Cheong said the statistics showed the effectiveness of the Road Traffic Law as well as the increase in public awareness of complying with law.

However, the secretary said the Public Security Police (PSP) will continue to set up road blocks and carry out alcohol breath tests randomly every day in various locations throughout the territory.

The PSP purchased 40 instant alcohol detectors in early this year to complement with the implementation of the work.

In terms of promotion, apart from giving away leaflets and organising activities about traffic safety with local associations, Cheong told the lawmakers that drink driving warnings have been delivered through radio broadcasting and on LED display screens on streets.

Arson

The security secretary affirmed that the police forces “have always been concerned” about the situation of arson and the impact it brought to society.

Not only did the PSP change the patrol approach by adding special police and plainclothes officers into the schedule, but also increased the frequency of patrols especially in “crime spots” and conducted case studies before setting the patrol routes, Cheong said.

As for the arsons which already occurred, he said that more human power had been relocated for the investigation, adding that a special team formed by the Judiciary Police organised crime division, criminal intelligence division and also the arson section was set up crack down on the crimes.

Although the secretary admitted that arson investigation was of “big difficulty”, two cases of cars having been set on fire by nine minors were solved.

Cheong vowed to the Legislative Assembly again that the police forces will continue to put in more efforts in the prevention of juvenile crimes in Macau.

Illegal inns

On the other hand, a number of lawmakers and assembly president Susana Chou questioned Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) director Joao Antunes of whether illegal inns operators could be prosecuted by fire, health, or other construction regulations.

However, Antunes said that the key was in the revision of the law in order to formally define what illegal inns meant – which he added had nearly been completed and will be submitted to the Legislative Assembly before the current term ends.

Tobacco tax to jump 10 times

Health Bureau director Lei Chin Ion told the lawmakers that the Macau government is planning to massively increase the tobacco tax from one to 10 percent, in contrast to Hong Kong’s 60 percent.

In response to Au Kam San’s inquiry yesterday, Lei said the draft of the Tobacco Control Act had been completed in February and is awaiting the legal department’s review.

However, he was not certain of whether the bill could be handed in to the Legislative Assembly before the term ends.

Civil service vocation system

According to Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda Chan yesterday, as at the end of September 2008 a total of 10,003 public servants, accounting for 45 percent of the entire force, are in the provident fund system.

She said that the SAR government had contributed more than 660 million patacas into the fund since it was introduced on January 1, 2007.

The secretary stressed at the legislature that the government will “gradually standardise civil servants’ rights and obligations, and continue to improve and launch various incentives such as the revision of allowance and contract system”.

At the same time, a study will be carried out on the public security forces allowance scheme and the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau Personnel Statute will be amended, Chan added.

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