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 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:


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:


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…


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.


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

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:


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.


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.


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