‘Essence of the problem of illegal hostels’ must be found, Wong says

Wong Sio Chak

Alluding to the recent controversy related to illegal hostels, the Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak said that the “essence of the problem must be found.”

Wong was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the celebration of the Lunar New Year yesterday morning at the Coloane Prison when questioned on the recent incidents involving deaths and the debate over the need to turn the exploitation of illegal hostels into a crime, said, “[The matter of the criminalization of illegal hostels] has been already addressed in a study by several departments some years ago. Criminalization is the last resort.” He added, “in a previous occasion at the Legislative Assembly, I have said before that we need to find [first] the essence of the problem, as turning [the practice] into a crime is just a final method to solve this problem.”

According to the Wong, the problem, which has been a point of concern for much of society, is already being addressed by the government, namely the Secretariat of Administration and Justice, Sonia Chan.

“Yesterday [Tuesday], Sonia Chan already held a working meeting about this subject and in this meeting we decided to collect public opinion and analyze it,” Wong revealed noting that in the meanwhile, “the Secretariat for Security is committed to put all efforts to fight this kind of problems and the PSP [Public Security Police Force] will put all the possible efforts to do more inspections in cooperation with MGTO [Macao Government Tourism Office].”

To topic of the illegal hostels has been high on the government’s agenda after two deaths, the latest of which occurred earlier this week when a 47-year-old man, the owner of an illegal hostel, was killed during a brawl that followed a dispute with one of his guests.

Another two men that were also involved in the case sustained injuries in an incident that is still under investigation by the Judiciary Police.

In response to questions by the media on a separate topic, Wong said that in regard to the case of the PSP officer who fired a warning shot in a casino while trying to control the actions of a group of tourists that were smoking in an illegal area, “the PSP are still investigating. When they reach a final conclusion they will make the results public.” Wong also noted the officer, after a preliminary evaluation, has already resumed his normal work duties.

Regarding the suggestion of equipping the officers with pepper spray, Wong said that such proposal would move forward but that before that is put into force, the PSP would reinforce training officers to deal with such situations that as the Secretary acknowledged, “are very frequent in the Casinos and it is not possible to avoid them all”. 

Taipa illegal guesthouse sealed

On the sidelines of a press conference yesterday, MGTO director Helena de Senna Fernandes said that there are around 40 inspectors dedicated to illegal guesthouse inspections. The tourism head admitted that the bureau is facing some pressure due to the small number of inspectors and comparatively large number of illegal guest houses. Regarding the Taipa housing unit which was deemed an illegal guesthouse and in which a fight and one death were reported on Tuesday, Helena said that the property has already been sealed, and that MGTO will take follow-up action to investigate the operator of this specific illegal guesthouse. JZ

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