The Commission Against Corruption (CCAC), headed by André Cheong, has been in the news every week, baring its teeth to both “tigers” and “flies”. Two weeks ago, an investigation launched by CCAC found that two technicians from the Civil Engineering Laboratory allegedly received 40,000 patacas in bribes to produce 10 fraudulent soil test reports. Soon after, Mr Cheong’s men denounced two staff of the Transport Bureau who were suspected of having taken bribes totaling 16 million patacas for helping three firms to be granted over 60 procurement contracts for the running of public car parks – the bribes were no less than 25 percent of the contracts’ total value, 68 million. And on Thursday the graft-buster seriously embarrassed Secretary Alexis Tam by saying that the commission “has found no evidence of wrongdoing” by a member of the Cultural Industries Fund administrative committee sacked a week ago by Dr Tam on grounds of having favored family members in the attribution of public funds. It’s good to know that the Commissioner is there also to protect those who may be wrongfully accused.
Chui Sai On yesterday responded to accusations by Nepalese community leaders that the government was being unresponsive to aid requests to help minimize the suffering in Nepal, torn apart by a major earthquake two weeks ago. And he responded with substance. The Chief announced an aid donation of 20 million patacas, following the example of many others, including gaming operators. Maybe a little late or pressured, but Dr Chui Sai On just confirmed a great, long humanitarian Macau tradition of helping neighbours in trouble. This is something our society should cherish and preserve.
Lawmaker Lei Cheng I recently stated that “local employees do not see their salaries being reviewed because of large scale recruitment of foreign workers.” Ms Lei and other lawmakers actually attributed “all” the ills affecting Macau to non-resident workers (TNRs): from inflation to overcrowding and exhausting the city’s resources. In a place where unemployment is under 2%, a rate economists classify as “full employment,” she suggested a temporary ban (!) on the importation of foreign labor, so that more job vacancies could be allocated to residents. To that I respond with veteran economist José I. Duarte’s words this week: “The ‘robbing jobs’ argument is essentially a fallacy, with scant evidence suggesting that it is true or, at least, true in any meaningful or obviously harmful way – in fact, quite the contrary.”