Hengqin campus construction may begin at end of 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Issue 777, Page 3
Word count: 651
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The construction of the University of Macau’s (UM) Hengqin campus is now being pushed forward and it is hoped that the project can be implemented within this year, Rector Zhao Wei said yesterday.

More than 50 members from the University Assembly, the University Council, UM and the media paid visit to the 1.092 kilometre square land parcel which is still mostly covered by long grass on the eastern coast of Hengqin Island and to the south of the Macau Lotus Bridge.

The UM Rector was reluctant to disclose when the construction of the new campus will begin, but at last merely admitted that it should be at the end of this year.

The construction is expected to take three years to complete.

“The campus will be able to meet students’ needs and satisfy the university’s needs in teaching and research,” Prof. Zhao said.

When asked about the land resumption progress, Prof. Zhao said it is the responsibility of Zhuhai city and Macau will follow the central government’s instructions to implement the project step by step.

In regard to the border security issue, the UM Rector told reporters it is still in discussion.

“Once outside the campus, it will be under Zhuhai’s jurisdiction and when people are inside, it’s under Macau’s laws, so there must be a separation in the middle,” he said.

“But I think the dividing line [between the campus and the rest of Hengqin] will be done in a ‘beautiful and civilized’ way so that it will look good in the eyes of the people,” he added.

Prof. Zhao said it is important to keep opening the new campus to the public, and he was not worried that the presence of tourists or other civilians will affect the quality of the study environment.

“It’s a positive thing for people or tourists to go to visit the campus, as the students will not stay in a closed learning environment but have the opportunity to understand and accept their society by interacting with people from outside,” he said.

Meanwhile, University Assembly member Ho Iat Seng also said that the new campus is located “appropriately” for Macau students and he is looking forward to seeing the future development of UM.

“With such good environment and conditions and the strong foundation of UM, I believe UM will be able to take itself to a new stage sooner than a brand new university,” Mr Ho said.

According to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Mr Ho said the campus’ jurisdiction will belong to Macau only after the construction is completed, and thus the whole construction project will be carried out under the mainland’s laws and regulations.

Chair of the University Council Daniel Tse Chi Wai said in a speech that the university would never consider relocating if the SAR government was unable to exercise jurisdiction over the Hengqin campus.

“We must ensure the existing educational values and systems of the university can be retained on the future campus, and students can commute between the campus and their homes in Macau without going through immigration clearance,” Dr Tse said.

In order to exercise Macau’s jurisdiction on the Chinese mainland soil, Dr Tse said Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah, now the Chief Executive-Elect Chui Sai On and Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io paid nnumerous visits to Beijing to explain Macau’s standpoint and needs to state leaders and relevant ministers at that time.

A seabed traffic and pedestrian tunnel will be built to connect Coloane and the campus, with the entrance being near the natural gas plant near the Concordia Industrial Park on the Macau side.

After the construction of the campus is completed, relocation will be carried out in phases.

The existing campus site will afterwards serve as a venue for educational, research, cultural and sports activities closely related to the Macau community, Prof. Zhao said in the presentation.

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