A government study has determined that criminalizing illegal guesthouses is not an effective solution to the problem, according to a statement released by the government.
In December 2018, the SAR government organized a cross-departmental working group to explore the criminalization of illegal guesthouse operations. The group, which was chaired by Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan, consisted of representatives from the administration and justice sector, the security sector, and the social affairs and culture sector.
The inter-departmental working group consulted with various interest groups, legal professional bodies in Macau, and with lawmakers for their opinions.
For the public reference, the government also published a report on whether the criminalization of illegal guesthouses should be implemented.
The majority of the opinions and suggestions collected indicate the problem is not whether to criminalize the operation of illegal guesthouses or not but, more importantly, to understand the causes in order to solve the problem and find effective ways to curb wrongdoing.
Taking into consideration the resources of law enforcement if criminalized, and the fact that there is no clear relationship between illegal guesthouses and criminal activities, and having also regard to experience elsewhere, especially Portugal, mainland China and Taiwan, the government believes that criminalizing the issue is not a solution.
In addition, the report also said that it is not appropriate to attribute the operation of illegal guesthouses to insufficient sanctions under the existing law, and concludes that criminalization cannot solve the problem.
The government’s stance is that improving and strengthening law enforcement, enhancing awareness of the regulations, and other measures should be considered. JZ