‘Arrogant’ officials cause social problems: Susana Chou

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Issue 1091, Page 2
Word count: 837
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Failing to cultivate talents with a political and management background, rich life experiences and knowledge and also high ideals before the Macau handover, according to the Legislative Assembly’s former president Susana Chou, is the underlying cause of some of the social problems nowadays.

In her latest blog post on August 15, Chou said that during the four centuries of Portuguese administration, no Portuguese investment or enterprise had ever set foot in Macau and that therefore the territory’s economic interests were “insignificant” to Portugal.

Before the 1974 Carnation Revolution, Portugal owned many colonies in Africa and Chou said at that time outstanding Portuguese people would usually go to these places to work in the governments or run a business, and those who were sent to work in the Macau Government basically were “second-class talents” with no big political or economic influence.

Since Portugal did not pay much attention to Macau, the main difference between Macau and other Portuguese colonies was that the Portuguese language was “never widely used” in Macau over the four centuries before 1999, Chou said.

“It was until 1987 after the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration was signed, Chinese people in Macau started to have the opportunities to hold key posts in the civil service and the Portuguese administration also began to pay attention to the training of Chinese/Portuguese bilingual civil servants,” she said.

“However, until the moment before Macau was returned to Chinese sovereignty, all principal officials including those in the judicial agencies were assigned from Portugal. And this was why Macau, after the handover, doesn’t have a team of highly efficient and experienced civil servants and judges like that in Hong Kong,” she added.

And the fatal point is, the ex-legislature head pointed out, Macau’s government officials have “low political awareness, little governance experience and inadequate life experiences”.

Officials are ‘always right’

Susana Chou was critical of some officials saying they “know nothing about politics, economy, laws and lives, and also aren’t aware that the Macau people nowadays are no longer as quiet as before and have set higher demands for the Government.”

“Regrettably these officials didn’t try to work harder to learn more. In contrast they feel good and superior about themselves after being promoted to the senior level.

“This kind of officials will always put themselves on top of the civilians. They believe what they say is always true and what they do is always right. Public opinions fall on their deaf ears and they turn a blind eye to people’s hardships,” Chou said.

To Chou, the fundamental cause of these officials’ “poor performance” is that they did not go through any “political and managerial challenges/tests before getting high salaries”.

Hence, to these officials “everything came without needing to put in any effort”, she added.

“They never tried to uphold any power before they actually do, they don’t understand that the desire for expansion can cause incredible harm to people. The sudden rise to fame has […] made them lose rationality. And because of this they don’t know how to value this big chance to contribute to society and serve the people,” Chou pointed out.

However, although this group of officials may “look good on the outside”, Chou said “in fact” they don’t have confidence in themselves and fear that civilians and the subordinates will look down on them.

“In order to cover their inner fears, they make use of the power given by the civilians and have become so arrogant and aggressive” in front of the people and the subordinates, Chou added.

Consequently, Chou said no one dared to tell the truth as they might lose the chance of a job promotion. This practice of flattering has become “common” in public departments and has “severely harmed the Government’s image and is disadvantageous to social development”.

Macau still has capable talents

Nevertheless, Chou said she believed that there are still some capable people in Macau but the point is whether these talents can be properly used and whether they can be treated fairly in the competition.

In the meantime, she pushed for a reform in the principle civil servant team as well as the establishment of an accountability system and a mechanism to ensure that talents can be put in a fair competition.

Chou also urged the Government to change their mindset and accept different points of view “modestly”. She said that everybody makes mistakes, but as long as they don’t do it again people will still support them.

In addition, she advised the officials not to harm the overall interest of society and even stand against the people as a way to protect their “dignity and authority”.

“In order to maintain their dignity and authority, they will try as hard as they can to find excuses for their mistakes, insist on their mistakes and then do it again and again,” Chou said.

“Apparently the people will not support these officials anymore and as a result the Government will completely lose its prestige and have serious difficulties to govern the place”, she added.

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