Rear Window | Unintended consequences

Severo Portela

To the dismay of many a “mind your own business and nothing bad will happen to you” type of responsible citizen, political confrontation in the sister SAR of Hong Kong may be, if not spilling over to, at least affecting Macau…despite the enclave persona and its brand of realism that limits the emergence of social and political activism.

The matter at large is the usual handling of third party/outside entities evaluating MSAR deeds or misdeeds regarding human rights, cultural diversity, political development, and compliance with the Basic Law and international covenants; no longer is the response a polite and cautious do not complain, do not explain.

Now, besides an assertive rebuttal of “it does not stick to the facts” or other arguments about the data or (mis)interpretation of local issues, the Macau government now states unequivocally that the report or assessment (in this case, that of the EU- Brussels) constitutes an unacceptable meddling in China´s internal affairs.  This is the same wording Beijing took on the joint-initiative by Joshua Wong of Occupy fame, Martin Lee as the veteran Hong Kong democracy pundit before and after the handover, Lam Wing, one of the missing booksellers, and former governor Chris Patten in the address to a congressional panel in Washington. China became even more strident in denouncing the Hong Kong Chinese residents of involvement in foreign meddling (in China´s internal affairs).

However, out of reach of the Hong Kong/China jurisdiction, Patten managed to strike a real political blow against Beijing by making the observation that the autonomy promised to Hong Kong (Joint Declaration/Basic Law) has been decaying: if China is not abiding by the Hong Kong international treaty, it could conceivably one day not comply with other international treaties and not carry out their terms.

Besides the call of “interference” by foreign reports, Macau seems to be crossing the Rubicon of the unexplained for barring apparently common people from entering Macau via jetfoil. Hong Kong lawmaker Andrew Wan, a former Democratic Party vice-chairman, was the second pro-democracy legislator to be stopped and sent back in one month. But this time, the proscribed was given an explanatory letter stating that he was a threat to Macau´s internal security. Both the disregard for external surveys – independent or not – as an interference in (China’s) internal affairs, and the license to expel Hong Kong democrats on grounds of being a threat to Macau’s internal security are steps towards another level of normal which can be perceived as improvements or otherwise according to one’s preferences. This is a real political haircut or hell (analogous in this case) with unintended consequences.

This helps to create an environment of disfranchisement towards things political, leading to dire consequences. For example, Labor Day 2017 risked having gone on record as a non-event had it not been for the Pearl Horizon buyers who took to the streets to demand a resolution to their case, as well as the usual demonstration of the Macau Family Reunion Association, and a residual group of workers seasoned in petitioning against imported labor. At least the latter was all about labor on Labor Day. Alienation is a growing disease.

On a brighter note, we ought to highlight the Macau government’s sponsored application to become a Gastronomic City under the UNESCO Network of Creative Cities. It is a wonderful idea in as far as the listing may help to show Macau’s cultural diversity. They say it´s a Latin City, don´t they?


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Categories Opinion