By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Legal advisers of the Legislative Assembly encouraged the Macau Government to increase its level of participation in future old neighbourhood renewal projects rather than allowing developers to handle the entire process alone.
The legislature’s Second Standing Committee yesterday deliberated the draft law of the old neighbourhood renewal legal system, which the committee president Chan Chak Mo described as “very complicated”.
Chan told reporters after the closed door meeting that legal advisers pointed out that while neighbouring Hong Kong has the Lands Tribunal that specially deals with all legal disputes over old district renewal and land, Macau only has a related advisory and an assessment committee.
Yet, the advisers also stressed that the legal systems in Hong Kong and Macau are different, so it’s unnecessary for the Macau Government to follow suit.
Nevertheless, Chan quoted the advisors as saying that according to the bill, the SAR Government will only “take the lead” in the beginning deciding which area needs renewal.
“And after that if a developer shows interest and implements reconstruction, the government will just pass the ball to them and then ignore everything. There’s no mechanism to monitor their work in the process.
“It may undermine the government’s power and role and the advisers believe that the government could do a lot more,” the committee president said, adding in Hong Kong, the Urban Renewal Authority is involved in the entire reconstruction process.
He recalled that during the first reading of the draft law on March 23, some lawmakers from the real estate sector also questioned this arrangement that may “allow developers to force residents to reconstruct [their buildings] in order to make profit”.
He said the standing committee will ask the government to explain the decision.
In addition, some committee members pointed out that currently the government has no department to specifically deal with old neighbourhood renewal.
On the other hand, Chan said more precise definitions of “old neighbourhood” and “public interest” are needed in the draft law.
Lawmakers Mak Soi Kun and Ng Kuok Cheong were also concerned about whether an environmental assessment report would be required prior to reconstruction in order to ascertain how the project would make Macau a “more liveable city”.
Chan told reporters the standing committee will make enquiries to the government about whether the old neighbourhood renewal law should wait until the draft laws of urban planning and world heritage protection as well as the new reclaimed land planning are announced.