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Macau: Gambling, Corruption, and Repression

Last year Macau has a recorded 17% GDP growth, the gambling and tourist industry is blooming. However, the May Day demonstration in the past few years has been getting more and more violent. This year, it has resulted in 5 open gunshots (by the police) in the city center among the crowd. There is one suspected injured. However, the Macau mainstream media has downplayed the issue and kept defending the police's action.

The demonstration was organized by 6 citizen groups including independent unions and rights of abode organization. Its themes were “anti-corruption, improve livelihood, reduce imported labour, stop illegal worker, housing right, family reunion right and harmonious society”.

(Update: ESWN has quoted and translated some different versions of the demonstration from the mainstream media in Hong Kong)

Sanba (Macau resident) from inmediahk.net tried to explain the violence with his citizen report. It seems that the police, government and pro-China political groups has been trying to repress oppositional voices rather than dealing with it by manipulating the rally route and mainstream media report:

澳門警方雖然強調本澳居民有遊行、示威的權利,但所有活動應該在依法、守法的大前提下進行。所謂依法、守法的大前提,是遊行必須遵循警方所定的路線行進,亦即遊行隊伍絕對不能經過商業中心區新馬路一帶。本地主流傳媒、親政府議員和社團也反覆強調遊行經過新馬路會招致巨大的經濟損失和影響澳門旅遊形象。

Although the Macau police has stressed that Macau residents have the rights to demonstration and rally, the activities should be carried out according to law, which means, they have to follow the route according to the police design, which means, the demonstrators cannot pass through the commercial and city center. The mainstream media, pro-government politicians and groups keeps stressing that if the protesters pass through major road in the city center would result in economic loss and have negative impact on Macau's image.

This year, he has joined the rally and witnessed the police's action:

沿路所見,警方確是有備而來,遊行所經之處的街頭巷尾都有警員駐守。與常見的遊行歡迎市民沿途加入不同,澳門51遊行幾乎一開始就已經以強勢警力將遊行隊伍分隔數段拉開距離,所有市民只能出不能入,並分批驅趕遊行人士進入巷弄及威嚇市民離開現場,不得停留,尤如對待暴民的戒嚴。遊行隊伍遠未到達,已有警員以維持治安為理由要求沿途所有營業中的店鋪拉閘關門,製造恐怖氣氛…

From what I saw, the police was very well prepared, every street corner had police. It was very different from other demonstration that allowed people to join in spontaneously. From the very beginning, the police tried to separated the protesters from other citizens, they forced the protesters to walk into allies while threaten ordinary citizens to stay away. The situation is similar to imposing of martial law to rioters. The police even asked all the shop along the street to close their door. The atmosphere is full of terror…

現場所見,由於沒有人帶領叫口號,遊行民眾除了情緒激動地訴說各種不平:黑工泛濫、土地低價批租、不信只有歐文龍涉貪等等,訴求可謂五花八門。行動其實相當溫和,只是靜靜地步行,絕對沒有破壞沿途任何物件,或者衝擊任何店舖,更沒有主動挑釁警員,只有在遊行受阻時,合力往前推,並在受到警察的衝擊時,隨手丟出水樽,以及少量的雞蛋。

There were no leaders leading slogan, protesters kept talking about all the social injustice: illegal workers, corruption of Ao Man Long in giving out land, all kinds of stories. Their action was very moderate, just walking along with the crowd, no destructive acts. They did not challenge the police. Only when the police blocked their way, they would try to push through. Some would throw out plastic water bottles and eggs facing police violence.

遊行隊伍偏離警方所定的路線後,行至沙梨頭海邊街,大約下午四時多已被警方前後包抄,進退不得,分批驅散,並強行宣佈遊行結束。

When the protesters deviated from the police designated route, the police surrounded them and forced the demonstration to end there.

In spite of the police's threat and government repression, there were more than 10,000 people joined the rally. The main clash happened when the police forced the demonstration to end with five open gunshots.

The political background of this demonstration seemed to directly related with the recent corruption case, which involved billions of dollars. Many people believed that the Chief Executive Edmond Ho was involved in the case. Some demonstrators have adapted the Taiwan depose president campaign's icon and asked for the step down of Edmond Ho.

In december 2006, Ao Man-long, the transport and public works secretary was accused of taking bribes in approving land for construction projects. Instead of having the investigation in Macau, the case was taken over by Hong Kong anti-corruption body with the explanation that money was tranferred to a Hong Kong bank. However, many people believed that Edmond Ho was involved in the case even though he had asked the Beijing government to sack Ao after the case was exposed.

In a post at cyberctm BBS two weeks ago, Cataphract commented that

何厚鏵,你知唔知「上樑不正下樑歪」「上行下效」的道理?
尋日睇新聞, 賊首又在新加坡叫澳門市民承擔乜乜七七
成日要求官員點點點, 成日要市民點點點承擔, 佢自己就沒責任??

貪得最多又係你, 賤批地那個又係你, 7年停建社屋經屋那個又你, 賭牌讓人亂分又係你, 你自己又如何????

你仲係咁賤批地法, 仲係咁貪法, 邊有人會服你? (雖然澳門幾乎沒人信你了, 除了一些愚民)

Edmond Ho, do you know what is the meaning of “when the column up there is curved, the column down there can't be straight” and “the low ranking staffs will follow the example of the upper ranking one”?
In yesterday news, the head of the robber again asked Macau people to have commitment in Singapore.
He just knows how to pinpoint at his staffs and citizens, he has no responsibility?

You gained most from the corruption, you approved the public land at the cheap price, you stopped the construction of economic housing, you allowed the gambling licenses to give out randomly, what is your responsibilities?

If you keep on giving out land like that, if you keep on corrupting like this, who can submit to your authority? (Nobody in Macau believes in you anymore, except fools.)

Happy ride in the same BBS thread commented that:

澳門市民已經承擔高樓價,,,高消費…他每次看銀包也看見很多澳門人擔住自己的血汗錢進貢緊

Macau people have to suffered from expensive housing and consumer goods… every time when he (Edmond Ho) looks into his pocket, he sees the tribute paid by Macau people's blood and sweat.

As onemanbandwidth said earlier, in a gambling econmies, some win but more will lose.

In Macau, more than 60% of the gamblers in Macau come from Mainland China. Why's that? Blogger Kendo had a very informative post written early this year:

賭場眾知不止耍樂甘簡單,金錢清洗亦是一重要功能,可以說澳門已經成中國不能見光的人民幣之清洗重點南大門。那些人的大量人民幣根可本無須出境,有人會在國內收取,則他們便來指定賭場領取超額指定記號 (此亦一吸引賣點) 籌碼去大賭一番,把記號籌碼輸掉你沒有贏到,便賭場笑呵呵,把贏到的之正常籌碼換回港元便是賭客目的之一。但中國人好賭,十賭九輸,不見江湖幾人贏,否則不會人人來投資吧。

Casino is not just for fun, one of its function is to wash money. We can say that Macau has become China's money washing major spot. They don't need to carry the money through the immigration, someone will pick up from mainland. They just need to go to Macau and pick up the marked chips. If they lose, that's fine, they can even laugh about it. If they win, they can change the unmarked chips back to Hong Kong dollars. Chinese enjoy gambling, but most of them lose, or else foreign capital won't come here to invest.

國內各地大小豪客,賭本何來,可是來源自一個個貪污和挪用公款之官員或身邊人物,當然正當生意賺到的想拿來轉轉外幣亦有人在。但貪污和挪用公款必然是最大之比率。…

Some where the money of mainland gamblers comes from? It comes from corruption. Probably there are also some proper business people. But the biggest proportion would be from government money…

Wonder how this scandal is going to end. Edmond Ho will continue to be Macau's Chief Executive until 2008.

2 comments

  • […] Thank god for EastSouthNorthWest and Global Voices Online! They aggregate, report and translate news from multiple sources around the world on human rights and of human interest affecting us all. […]

  • Chow Chow

    I am a bit shocked after i read this news. I went to Macau a few weeks ago whereas my last visit was 1.5 years ago. The changes are tremendous which I cannot image, the feeling of gambling, corruption ….can be improved a bit if more facilitates for families are built so that Macau will become a place to enjoy rather than only gambling.

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