It is the perfect storm. Pressure is building from multiple fronts.
There’s a newly found strength in our community. Since the incredible show of people-force buoyed by the need to clear up our streets and support the elderly and vulnerable in the aftermath of Hato and in preparation for Pakhar, we have evidence that we can band together to fight a common foe or work for mutual benefit. To a point.
Alongside the all hands to work approach to the event, blame was squarely pointed at the government for breaking the social contract – their duty of care – with the resident community. Weaknesses in emergency systems, inadequate preparation and fundamental failure of basic services have put pressures on the government, causing heads to roll and the PLA to rumble across the bridge to assist. Regardless of whether it was imposed by Beijing or an act of self-determination, the additional help on the ground relieved us physically and emotionally, but heightened doubts in our administration’s ability to manage this little Macau.
The government deserves to remain uneasy, but discomfort is a good thing, it prompts action. The question is the nature of the action that shall be taken.
On top of an awakened community and an increasing lack of faith in authority to protect us, there is constant bombardment of news of natural tragedies elsewhere. Still reeling from our own trauma, the world has become a less secure place and so we clamber for a response, a sign that there is deliverance. After times of crisis, we look and find fault everywhere, just as Galaxy’s staff did over the pool-cleaning incident.
Yet, amongst our recent losses and nerve-jarring insecurities seeking avenues to lay blame, we witnessed yet another increase in gaming revenue (the industry performs even in this destructive month of the Hato). Similar demands to those raised last Tuesday by the New Macau Gaming Professional Association in the protest against Galaxy for better pay and conditions will likely continue on industry players in this climate: A welcome diversion for a government that might apply its own kind of pressure on the industry.
In this neck of the woods, compensation is a commonplace demand – especially with an election coming up. It is something immediate, something tangible, something that solves the cognitive dissonance of wrongs felt without being righted. We relax and forget but only once we get.
Calling for compensation when harm has been done is a simple and simple-minded fix. Pay-up and we shut up and the wrongdoer is alleviated from further responsibility – until the next time. It is typical of a lack of integrated systems thinking. A short-sightedness of the sort that saw Macau struggling through Hato. We all applauded the community for coming out and clearing the streets during those dreadful days, as so we should. But the immediacy, the nature of the task, although dirty and dangerous, was relatively straight forward and finite, even uplifting. In contrast, the vision, knowledge and long-term planning to protect Macau against the incessant flooding in the Inner Harbour, to ensure that we no longer see infrastructure project budget and time overruns, remove labour power imbalances, to pull all Macau residents out of poverty and build quality housing, among many of our social, institutional and infrastructure problems is painstaking and incessant. None of this will be fixed if we relieve authority figures of immediate concrete action. Compensation to individuals and demanding accountability via sackings and resignations are feel-good measures. Such responses merely remove the urgency to plan and implement concerted and effective change.
Unless dependent upon assistance for survival, don’t be bought out. Maintain the unease that will get the right things done.