Public funds not officials’ own money: Susana Chou

Friday, July 16, 2010
Issue 1064, Page 3
Word count: 395
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

“Public funds definitely do not belong to Government officials but unfortunately some of them don’t understand this, and use public money as if it was their own and don’t care about the purposes or consequences,” former president of the Legislative Assembly, Susana Chou, wrote on her latest blog post.

She also “very much agrees” with Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On’s decision to freeze the construction of the light rail exhibition gallery, but hoped that in the future officials can “listen to more opinions and think thoroughly about the consequences” before making any decisions.

On the blog post dated July 14, Susana Chou said public funds are money that “jointly owned by Macau residents”, and therefore “its use and allocation must have to meet the interests of Macau residents” and that Government officials are only having “the power to manage and dominate the use of the funds”.

Since the public funds in the officials’ hands are not their “private money”, Chou said they need to spend it cautiously and for the welfare of local people.

Things about how officials are using public money that she said she have heard are “unbelievable”, such as “a deluxe bar in some officials’ offices, air-conditioning in the bathrooms, civil servants going abroad for training but bringing family together, leaders of the Financial Services Bureau charging excessive attendance allowances and officials using the name of promoting the Basic Law to enjoy free holidays in mainland China”.

Over the past decade Chou said the Macau Government has also created a “trend” of organising delegations to go outside of Macau for visits.

“Youth groups, women groups, teachers groups, social organisations groups, commercial and trade groups, workers groups and various advisory committees form all kinds of delegations, [they] use the name of exchange and learning but in fact many of them were using public funds to get free travels,” she commented.

Although some visits were necessary and reasonable and thus should not be criticised or questioned, Chou pointed out that some others had no “clear themes or objectives” before departure and also did not conclude the experience or write a report after finishing the trips.

“To misuse public funds and corruption are different in their forms, but if we look at the problem from the perspective of a person’s moral quality, I think there is no big difference between the two,” she wrote.

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