Government’s power in question in illegal inn bill

Friday, April 23, 2010
Issue 994, Page 2
Word count: 354
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The First Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly was uncertain about one of the government’s proposals in the bill, that authorities will have the power to cut water and electricity supply as well as to prohibit owners from selling their flats in a bid to combat operations of illegal inns.

The bill to tackle illegal inn business in Macau proposes that the government shall have the competency to terminate power and water supply in resident-unit-turned illegal inns.

Committee president Kwan Tsui Hang told reporters after yesterday’s meeting that despite an illegal inn will be sealed off after being found, “in real situation the seals will be torn off shortly and operators will then continue the business”.

While some lawmakers in the standing committee doubted whether the bill will give excessive power to authorities, others supported the move as they believed the public interest comes as the first priority.

Hence, Kwan Tsui Hang said further discussions and a “cautious study” are needed in a bid to balance the interests in the bill.

In addition, if an illegal inn never restores its original look and the owner also declines to do so, the bill will again give authorities the power to nail the title deed so that the flat can neither be sold nor transferred to another person.

Kwan Tsui Hang said the standing committee also had divergent views on it. Some lawmakers pointed out that it would violate the rights of individual property ownership, but some others said the government would not be able to effectively eliminate illegal inn operations if it did not have power or capability to make certain instant decisions.

The Legislative Assembly’s legal teams and the government are going to compile a new work draft on the bill and no committee meeting will be held until the draft is available.

Kwan Tsui Hang said since the amendments involved some technical problems, it may take longer to be completed.

However, she said the government will give priority to finishing the new draft as it is aware of the “strong demand and public interest” involved in the oppression against the illegal inn business.

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