Anti-corruption agency slams gov’t in Ilha Verde Hill probe

Macau’s anti- corruption agency has found that two government departments violated the Urban Planning Law and the Cultural Heritage Protection Law in their conservation and planning of a land parcel at Ilha Verde Hill.

Following complaints submitted by various companies and associations in Macau, the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) began an investigation into a 56,000-square-meter land plot at Ilha Verde Hill. According to the property registration and cadastral records, the parcel at Ilha Verde Hill consists of the hill itself and the adjacent areas.

The complaints initially concerned the process of title obtaining, delineation and area calculation of the land parcel, however, also covered what the complainants suspected was damage to the hill and landscape caused by poor conservation efforts. During the course of the investigation, the CCAC uncovered a pattern of public department mismanagement.

It found that, when it came to the conservation and planning of the land parcel, the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) and Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) had failed to adhere to regulations outlined in the aforementioned laws.

The CCAC objected in particular to the DSSOPT’s granting of plans to construction projects before the Ilha Verde Urbanization Plan had been revised.

It said that, after the passage of the Cultural Heritage Protection Law in 2013 and the fact that Ilha Verde Hill had been classified as a site with cultural heritage value, the former Ilha Verde Urbanization Plan, drafted in 2010 and 2011, was made redundant.

Accordingly, in August 2014, the DSSOPT commenced the procedure of revising the urbanization plan. In December 2017, based on the opinions provided by the IC, the bureau revised some of the contents of the urbanization plan, which expanded the green conservation zone to the entire hill, shrank the areas in which building is permitted and lowered the permitted maximum building height in some of the areas.

“However, the DSSOPT has never conducted public consultation on and publicized the aforesaid revisions of the Ilha Verde Urbanization Plan,” noted the CCAC in a summary statement issued yesterday, and in this way failed to “obtain opinions from the Urban Planning Committee, the general public and the parties concerned in accordance with the ‘principle of transparency and promotion of public participation’ provided for by the Urban Planning Law.”

“The practice of approving projects before reviewing the urbanization plan is simply ‘putting the cart before the horse’ and will inevitably raise doubts about whether or not some acts are intentionally hasty,” concluded the CCAC. “It will also seriously undermine the effectiveness of the urbanization plan.” 

Meanwhile, the anti-corruption agency accused the IC of being complacent in its inspection works of the land parcel, saying that in a recent case, the bureau should have urged the mandatory inspection with the respective costs borne by the owner of the property.

“In the CCAC’s opinion, as the IC is vested with the authority to take adequate and effective means by the law, it should proactively motivate and even carry out the relevant repair works and faithfully shoulder the statutory responsibility for safeguarding the cultural heritage. It should not allow Ilha Verde Hill, the convent and the other structures there to remain haphazard and in such disrepair.” DB

Categories Headlines Macau