Rear Window | Blind Runner

Severo Portela

Sometimes it seems as if Macau will not allow itself a break, or an interval of nothing happening. It is as if the MSAR cannot stand smooth sailing after a troublesome and controversial period, unable to enjoy a deserved rest from the legislative elections to breath ease until a new crisis. Pardon us for the inadequate choice of the word crisis.

Unless the idea was to spin out the outcome and all related to the September 17 elections, the new fare proposal to make the non-resident worker crowd pay more than locals for a bus ride is stupid, a nonsense – sorry once more for the inadequacy of our choice of words. Worse still is to dress up as if perfectly normal a racially infused step as though it was a virtuous “positive discrimination”.

Actually, the increase would affect mostly the thousands of Filipino and Indonesian domestic helpers whose wages are additionally constrained by being excluded from the minimum wage mechanism.

The Secretary for Transport and Public Works, quoted by TDM, was more than assuring: when he stated that the “distinction aims to provide more support for the Macau residents: positive discrimination”. The rational behind the dual fare system as a token of positive discrimination is so deviant and aberrate that we will restrain ourselves from listing equivalent measures so as not to challenge the seriousness of the issue…although there is true potential for fun in doing so.

Feeling this could turn into a hot debate, a potential mine field, the three MSAR bus operators TCM, Transmac and Nova Era, usually the ones to bargain for high fares and higher public subsidies here and elsewhere, were quick to inform the public that the new fare regime was exclusively an idea from the government brought to the table of the Traffic Consultative Council (Transport Advisory Committee). The same table at which the Secretary for Transport and Public Works were to take cover if the positive discrimination measure was to succumb to public outrage.

Raimundo do Rosario was careful enough to have a by-way to avoid the worst damage the issue could inflict upon the government, that is to say a direct confrontation with any negative discrimination. The resource, the tool, is the recurrent mantra of the “still under consultation”, “still under consultation”, “still”.

However, this time the resource cannot be applied as a mere delaying tactic for a matter of inconvenience, or even to shelve or bury the matter. Thanks to new legislator Agnes Lam, who is as shrewd as she is candid, we have to consider that the purpose of so bizarre a fare play – negative discrimination, indeed – is to assess the level of acceptance by the local residents.

This is another game and is the reason we titled our column Blind Runner, sparing the obvious, since everybody knows both the Basic Law and the new movie are dated 2049.

We have to face the possibility that some building blocks are being tested prior to being put in place, in the count down to 2049. Apparently, some of the building blocks probably do not comply with the expectations we glean from the development of the Basic Law, such as the one we mentioned a fortnight ago in the form of the small group of residents who cannot have the right to appeal. If this non-resident special treatment regarding bus fare is to be tested as acceptable, as well as other tests to come, sooner rather than later Macau will fly blind runner.

One final note inspired by Phillip K. Dick “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. Replying to this proposal and to an invitation of walking as a means of transportation, Paul Pun suggested ATM to give a bonus to holders of Macau Pass who gladly go jay-walking to their workplaces.

And a second final note inspired by Jeffrey Goldenberg in “The Atlantic” magazine. The autocratic element is not only the abuse of power but also the reversal of truth. 

Categories Opinion