◼︎Hong Kong’s police department classified the disappearance of the co-owners of a bookstore as a missing-person case. The disappearance of Lee Bo, a major shareholder of Causeway Bay Books, which specializes in material critical of the Communist Party of China, was reported missing by his wife January 1. Later, local activist Jason Chao claimed that a similar case could occur in Macau.
◼︎ After a year behind bars, Alan Ho and others suspected of being involved in a prostitution ring operating inside the Hotel Lisboa were finally brought before the Court of First Instance. Ho, the nephew of Stanley Ho, was at the time of the arrests the executive director of the Hotel Lisboa. Another five staff members from the same hotel joined him in the “dock.”
◼︎The Judiciary Police revealed the contents of a document from the Public Prosecutions Office relating to the death of the former director-general of the Customs Service, Lai Man Wa. “According to the evidence available, Lai Man Wa’s death was a suicide case. There is no evidence that her passing is related to criminal activity,” the statement read.
◼︎The Commission of Audit accused public departments of “lacking the necessary knowledge of the legal framework” when awarding service contracts. A report published by the commission indicated that the government issued 1,514 studies, surveys and consultancy services between 2010 and June 2013, which cost a total of MOP1.4 billion.
◼︎ Several dozen people appeared in a Hong Kong court to face rioting charges following a violent clash between protesters and police that was sparked by a clampdown on holiday street food vendors. Thirty-seven people attended a court in Kowloon, each facing one count of taking part in a riot – a rarely used charge that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
◼︎ It was announced by the Macau Government Tourist Office that Marco Müller, the former director of the Locarno, Venice and Rome festivals, would head the first International Film Festival and Awards Macao, scheduled to take place in December.
◼︎ Thousands of Madonna fans converged in the Studio City Event Center to see the Queen of Pop’s debut performances in Macau as part of her worldwide “Rebel Heart Tour.”
◼︎ The Macau Customs Service was reported to have denied entry to 15 Taiwanese citizens holding passports with “Republic of Taiwan” stickers attached. The stickers continue to be considered to be a politically controversial and sensitive matter.
◼︎ The former Prosecutor General, Ho Chio Meng, was arrested in connection with a suspected case of corruption that was investigated by the Commission Against Corruption. Ho Chio Meng had been the region’s top prosecutor from the handover until 2014 when he assumed the role of deputy prosecutor. In February 2015, he was appointed as coordinator of the Committee on Criminal and Legal Studies.
◼︎ Pro-democracy candidate Alvin Yeung of the mainstream Civic Party won a Hong Kong by-election while a rival from a radical pro-independence group arrested on riot charges placed a surprising third in a vote seen as an indicator of political tension in the city.
◼︎ The Secretary for Administration and Justice, Sonia Chan, reveals her understanding that a potential extradition treaty with neighboring Hong Kong could be applied retroactively for sentences that are still valid. No extradition treaty was agreed upon in 2016, postponing its discussion again for the future.
◼︎ Alan Ho was released from prison after receiving a sentence of 13 months (which was served during his time in custody), for one crime of prostitution exploitation. The judicial system found Ho guilty of being aware of the activities and knowingly allowing them to continue to operate in the hotel.
◼︎ A Hong Kong publisher of books critical of Chinese leaders returned to the city from the mainland after having disappeared while crossing the China-Hong Kong border in October 2015. Cheung Chi Ping met with Hong Kong police and asked them to cease inquiries into his disappearance.
◼︎ Macau’s Human Resources Office reported that the number of non-resident workers in the territory stopped growing in March, marking a slight decrease of 0.37 percent from the number in February, but almost no change from January’s figures. The figure bottomed out at approximately 181,000 people.
◼︎ A Macau court ruled that Asian American Entertainment Corporation, a former business partner of Las Vegas Sands, could proceed with a lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in damages for breaking the terms of their former partnership agreement. Macau’s Court of First Instance had earlier denied Las Vegas Sands a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
◼︎ An MDT investigative report unearthed that a 35-year-old Kenyan athlete won the 2014 Macau International Marathon while she was banned for doping. Flomena Chepchirchir Chumba was revealed to have been under a ban issued by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
◼︎ An online petition signed by 6,877 people was submitted to the Chief Executive’s Office calling for the preservation of the green area of Coloane Hill. The petition, called “Our Land, Our Plan,” opposed a residential project planned for the site. The petitioners also demanded the release of the environmental impact assessment to disclose the decision-making process behind the authorization of the building permit.
◼︎ The application criteria for Air Macau’s “Macau Local Cadet Program” came under fire after one of the requirements stipulated that candidates must be “Macau permanent ID card holders with Macau SAR passports,” effectively excluding all residents not of Chinese nationality. The requirement was later amended.
◼︎ Greyhound rights advocates and animal lovers in Europe staged demonstrations across the continent calling for the MSAR government to close the Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome. The demonstrations came shortly after local animal rights group, Anima Macau, challenged a representative of the company to a public debate over the merits of keeping the track open.
◼︎ A donation from the Macau Foundation to the mainland’s Jinan University worth RMB100 million was heavily criticized after it was suggested that the Chief Executive’s roles as the president of the Council of Trustees of the Macau Foundation and vice chairman of Jinan University Council represented a conflict of interest. New Macau Association called for the resignation of Chui Sai On, while the Commission Against Corruption assessed that there was no wrongdoing.
◼︎ The Education and Youth Affairs Bureau and the Macau Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau had their credibility publicly questioned after a series of decisions relating to weather warnings were dubbed ‘wrong calls’ by the public. On May 9, the education bureau cancelled classes in a haphazard fashion on account of a rainstorm warning for what ultimately transpired to be a mild weather day.
◼︎ A bill widely seen as a milestone in preventing and tackling domestic violence was approved in the Legislative Assembly, marking the conclusion of a controversial debate that lasted for several years. The new law categorized domestic violence as a public crime.
◼︎ Safety concerns were raised at the end of May after components of the Taishan nuclear plant, which is being constructed less than 80 kilometers west of Macau, were discovered to have been made in mainland China, rather than in France as was previously thought.
◼︎ Sheldon Adelson ended a six-year legal fight with the former head of his Macau casinos whose allegations of “outrageous and illegal” demands by the billionaire Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman prompted a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. A confidential settlement was reached between Steven Jacobs and the company according to a June 1 statement issued by Sands China.
◼︎ The annual June 4 candlelight vigil in Senado Square which commemorates the Tiananmen Square Incident in Beijing in 1989 reported fewer participants this year than in previous years. New Macau Association leader Scott Chiang blamed a general “ignorance of history” for the low turnout and the fact that youngsters are “more concerned with where to go during the weekend.”
◼︎ The head of the Cultural Affairs Bureau’s Department of Cultural Heritage, Leong Wai Man, admitted in a press conference that there were four endangered heritage sites in Macau potentially at risk of collapse. The announcement came two weeks after the partial collapse of the roof of Saint Augustine Church following heavy rain.
◼︎ The government announced its plans to relocate the First Notary Office from the historical Holy House of Mercy building in Senado Square. Local architect Carlos Marreiros and the current president of the Holy House of Mercy, António José de Freitas, decried the decision saying it would be detrimental to the charitable organization’s revenue.
◼︎ Former U.N. General Assembly President John Ashe died following a weightlifting accident prior to his testimony in a bribery case implicating Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng and the former diplomat on criminal charges. Ashe died awaiting trial. The official cause of death was “traumatic asphyxia […] while lifting a barbell on a bench.”
◼︎ The enforcement of the Land Law by Macau authorities was criticized by individuals from a variety of professions, all of whom claimed that the government was acting in an “unfair” way. Developers, investors, lawmakers, lawyers and real estate professionals said that they considered the current law enforcement to be “harming the image of Macau” as well as the interests of those investing in the development of the territory.
◼︎ The Judiciary Police director Chau Wai Kuong reported a surge in gaming-related crimes in the first half of 2016, mostly relating to usury and illegal detentions due to the non-payment of gaming debts. Almost 1,900 people were unlawfully detained in gaming-related incidents between June 2015 and May 2016.
◼︎ The Commission Against Corruption released an investigative report on the land exchange case related to the site of the Iec Long Firecracker Factory. The report documented the finding that the concession had not adhered to correct procedures and was therefore void, meaning the holder of the land plot had no legal right to it. It also ruled that no compensation from the MSAR government was due.
◼︎ In a meeting between the director of the Gaming and Inspection Bureau, Paulo Martins Chan, and the Canidrome (Yat Yuen) company, representatives of the government presented the greyhound racing facility with an ultimatum: close down or relocate to another site. The Canidrome was informed that it would have just two years in which to procure a new space.
◼︎ A tourist bus with 46 passengers on board crashed against a building on Rua da Entena, close to the Kiang Wu Hospital, leaving 32 passengers injured and three in a serious condition. The driver was allegedly outside of the vehicle trying to resolve a smaller traffic accident when the bus, which did not have its brake fully applied, started to roll down the road.
◼︎ New Macau President Scott Chiang was arrested following the hoisting of a black banner on Hotel Estoril that denounced Secretary Alexis Tam as a “heritage killer.” Chiang later denounced the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture as an “ignorant and arrogant official” not suitable to be in charge of preserving the city’s heritage.
◼︎ A Macau student at the National Taiwan University went on trial at the Taipei District Court for allegedly torturing a beloved stray cat to death in December 2015. The student, surnamed Chen, had previously tortured another cat earlier in May of that year, and was expelled from the university after the second incident.
◼︎ Uber threatened to close down its Macau operations by early September due to hefty fines given to its drivers unless the company could reach an agreement with the government on its legalization. Popular support for Uber over the weeks following the announcement led to the company revoking the threat and continuing to operate in the territory.
◼︎ Macau reversed its 26-month slump in gaming revenue, growing by a meager 1.1 percent, according to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
◼︎ Wynn Palace, the company’s second local property, opened on August 22. Speaking to reporters, Wynn described the new property as the “most beautiful” in the world, and said that its diversity of offerings has already begun to reverse earlier government opinions that the operator had not been doing enough to develop their non-gaming segment.
◼︎ The Korea Football Association said that a World Cup qualifier match between South Korea and Syria would not be played in Macau as previously scheduled, due to the failure of the Korean association and the Macau Football Association to reach an agreement.
◼︎ Barry Bland, whose Motor Race Consultants company had coordinated Macau’s Guia Circuit Formula 3 event since 1983, announced his withdrawal from the Macau Grand Prix.
◼︎ The Macau International Airport set a new record in August as it reached over the 630,000 passenger traffic and hit the 5,000 aircraft movement mark for the first time .
◼︎ The Parisian Macao, the latest addition from Sands China to the company’s portfolio in Macau, opened its doors. With the completion of The Parisian, Sands finished developing all its land in Macau, bringing its total investment in the city to between USD13 billion and USD14 billion.
◼︎ Most lawmakers voted against a proposal delivered by lawmaker Ng Kuok Cheong that aimed to force the government to initiate political reform for eventual universal suffrage in the election of the Chief Executive. Some accused Ng of trying to make Macau’s legislators “hostages” to his private interests.
◼︎ A woman who was raped and almost murdered by her colleague survived the traumatic attack after a passing motorcyclist discovered her body dumped in a garbage station in Fai Chi Kei. The 25-year-old assailant from mainland China was arrested the morning after upon his return to Macau.
◼︎ Macau’s gaming recovery picked up speed in October, registering an 8.8 percent year-on-year increase that beat analysts’ predictions and marked a third month of consecutive growth. The gross gaming revenue for the month stood at MOP21.8 billion according to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
◼︎ Two newly elected pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong defied an order barring them from taking their oaths after being previously disqualified for insulting China, sparking unruly scenes in the HKSAR’s legislature. Beijing’s intervention in November, preempting a pending Hong Kong court ruling, decreed that the oaths could not be retaken, setting a precedent that would be later adopted in Macau.
◼︎ November saw the eighth failure to pass a Trade Union Law in the Legislative Assembly, with 12 lawmakers voting in favor of the bill and 15 against it. Although rejected again, the bill seemed to gain broader support from lawmakers this time. Questions of how a trade union should be defined and whether the bill might jeopardize Macau’s economy dominated the discussion.
◼︎ Marco Müller announced his resignation from the first edition of the International Film Festival and Awards Macao, just one month before it was due to launch. The Macau Government Tourist Office cited “differences of opinion” as the reason, while other sources confirmed to the Times that Müller’s relationship with local organizers had always been tense.
◼︎ António Felix da Costa was “a happy boy” after he won the Macau Grand Prix for the second time. The Portuguese driver burst into tears at the podium while being cheered by Portuguese fans. The winner added that his victory closes his participation in the F3 race, although he hopes to return to Macau “many times.”
◼︎ Macau continued gaming revenue gains in November, posting the strongest growth in almost three years to advance the industry’s recovery. Gross gaming revenue rose 14.4 percent year-on-year to MOP18.8 billion, marking the biggest increase since February 2014.
◼︎ While Pearl Horizon pre- buyers continued to protest outside the Polytec Group’s headquarters and repeatedly called on the government to intervene, Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário announced that several land plots reclaimed by the government will be put out for public tenders in 2017, with priority given to the construction of public and affordable housing.
◼︎ Decisions made by the Court of Final Appeal ruling against appeals and petitions by the defense of the former Prosecutor-General Ho Chio Meng worried top lawyers in the territory, Jorge Menezes and Jorge Neto Valente. Ho continues to stand trial on accusations of corruption.
◼︎ Ho Chio Meng accused the current Secretary for Administration and Justice, Sonia Chan, as well as her predecessor, Florinda Chan, of pressuring him to hire their relatives when he was the prosecutor-general. After the scandal broke, Sonia Chan denied that she had exerted pressure but admitted that her relative was indeed hired.
◼︎ Two sons of lawmaker Pereira Coutinho were arrested after being found in possession of 1 kilogram of cannabis worth an estimated MOP500,000. The lawmaker denied that the arrests of his son impaired his ability to serve in his role and said it would not affect his bid for the Legislative Assembly next year.