Our Desk | Holiday handout

Julie Zhu

Each year, the rich Macau government distributes money to its local residents: MOP4,500 to non-permanent residents and MOP9,000 to permanent residents.

Within the area of Macau’s territory, there are workers making MOP9,000 per month after working for 22 days. Sometimes less, when holidays grant them a short break.

Instead of handing out money, how would it look if holidays were handed out? For example, a permanent resident getting MOP9,000 is receiving more than the city’s minimum wage. Suppose now that you make MOP9,000 per month. What would you choose if the government decided to offer you one out of the two following options: MOP9,000 in cash, which is the price of your labor work for one month, or one month off under the condition that you still earn your salary for this month? If this concept sounds somewhat difficult to understand, then consider the 30 days of holiday scattered all over one year. Simply put: 30 extra days of holidays. Imagine these 30 days distributed equally over each month: you get approximately two and a half days off more in one month, but you still get paid the same as you are getting paid now.

Put another way: 30 days equals 720 hours per year, which in turn correspond to 60 hours per month, which is roughly equal to at least two hours per work day. So, instead of getting MOP9,000 from the government, would you prefer working for six hours per day earning the same as you get paid now?

However, neither the Macau government nor any other party out there would ever offer an alternative to the cash handout. Having people choosing between two options would only create a mess for management.

This notwithstanding, a government or a system acting as followers, as opposed to leaders, would never come up with such an unprecedented policy.

I do not mean to say that people in other countries are working more and harder, or that those who work for other companies or industries are working more and harder. People do not want to stop themselves from being better off just because other people are doing worse than them.

And this is when I realize that the MOP9,000 seems to be too small a handout for Macau’s local labor force. Obviously, we all know that it is a safe sum for the government to offer.

My aforementioned holiday handout utopia makes me think of another strange phenomenon in Macau, which is the additional days of public holidays granted to civil servants.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t say this because I find it bizarre that there are many days off. I say it because I wonder about the reasons that allow civil servants to enjoy more holidays than all other hard working locals.

Anyway, let’s go back to the very beginning of this article, and make a choice.

Would you like the government to hand out holidays, or would you still go for the cash?

Categories Opinion