Speak less = fewer mistakes?

Saturday, November 21, 2009
Issue 875, Page 2
Word count: 601
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

So, what is the most sizzling hot topic in Macau recently? Most likely it’s Galaxy’s Cotai land grant, which has stirred a war of words between gaming operators and even the SAR government including the Chief Executive has to repeatedly “clarify” the legitimacy of the land deal.

Seriously, I don’t even know how it all got started at the first place. The controversy was like a snowball and everything seemed just happened – the media first reported the land contract when it was gazetted on October 21, then very soon two of the gaming operators started to question or basically criticise the land grant, and afterwards it came the first response from the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) – of course during which more news coverage was done – and eventually Galaxy’s senior executives commented on it but for sure largely echoing the government. Shortly another clarification was released by the government (wasn’t it quite obvious it was because they knew there was a strong discussion/debate over the land concession in society?), pro-democracy lawmakers proposed a hearing and finally just Wednesday Mr Edmund Ho Hau Wah couldn’t avoid the question anymore and was asked by local reporters straight to the face.

I was at the Legislative Assembly the day when the lawmakers got to vote on the motion filed jointly by Au Kam San, Ng Kuok Cheong and Chan Wai Chi. To be honest I kept talking to myself when so many lawmakers, argued how inappropriate or unnecessary it would be to summon specific government officials and Galaxy executives to the legislature and explain what was actually going on. I talked to myself so many times because I couldn’t resist not refuting their justifications.

Most of them said Galaxy wasn’t the first company to be given the right to transfer land tenancy to third parties – but will this second time approval make the land grant completely problem-free? In other words I mean even though the government did it again after the Venetian, it didn’t necessarily indicate rightfulness in the newest land deal with Galaxy.

Then, some of them also argued that leaving the new land concession affairs follow-up committee to study the issue would be more appropriate and effectiveness than having a hearing. Excuse me, do they really think so? Of course, this committee has the complete responsibility and legitimacy to look at the controversies or suspicions brought up by the land grant, but how long will it take or will related government officials be able to clear all the doubts?

There must be some reasons why the whole matter has evolved into such a big drama. And I believe public concern must play a role or otherwise who would care to report on it and why the government had to issue the second statement? I really wanted to know what the government gets to lose if officials have to explain it to lawmakers face to face.

Also, I would say some lawmakers’ speeches were truly a “surprise”. What they had said to oppose the hearing at that time just further convinced me to believe why more directly elected seats are needed and why some people say non-directly elected lawmakers are just there to protect the government.

Nevertheless, I hope the real reason behind is not something like what the Chief Executive had said this week referring to his insistence not to comment on the Ao Man Long case – that the government must have to tolerate the rumours or negative coverage in this time in order to protect the long-term interest of Macau. How great is that!

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