Culture secretary defends predecessor decision on Central Library

A rendering of the proposed Central Library project to be based in Tap Seac Square

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U said that the former government did not make a mistake by planning to build the Central Library at the site of the Old Court Building.
Last week, the Cultural Affairs Bureau announced that the new Central Library would be built on the land plot of the former Hotel Estoril in Tap Seac Square, returning to its original location chosen after a public consultation process held by the government in 2009.
The announcement marks a reversal from the previous administration, which had wanted to transform the Old Court Building for this purpose.
According to the current administration, the latest decision takes into account the location’s feasibility and accessibility, the ease of construction and the price of the project. It is expected to cost around 500 million patacas, approximately 45% less than what the government had forecast as the cost of construction at the Old Court Building in central Macau.
Former Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam had insisted that the Old Court Building was the best location to build the library.
Now that the earlier Old Court Building proposal has been abandoned, lawmakers and members of the public have pushed for high-ranking officials to be held accountable for wasting public money.
In 2016, the then-IC leadership claimed that the selection of the location for the new Central Library had been supported by the majority of the members of the city’s advisory council and the Macau people.
Responding to the public’s disapproval regarding the controversy, Secretary Ao Ieong only debunked the former IC’s claim by saying that the current cultural authority had reviewed the public’s previous opinions. They had especially considered whether people supported the former plan and noticed that the majority of the people were mostly concerned about accessibility, cultural protection and other aspects.
According to Ao Ieong, previous public opinions made the government believe that Hotel Estoril was a better location. Ao Ieong’s statement indicated that the former government had made mistakes in either understanding or in following public opinions.
However, despite indirectly admitting to the previous government’s mistakes, Ao Ieong still defended the former leadership team by saying, “Let me put it this way: at different moments, we make different decisions. At this moment, we feel that this decision is right.”

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