David Chow urged the government to open up the gambling market by allowing more concessionaires to operate in Macau. On the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony of the Harbourview Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf this week, Mr Chow stressed, “When the government is reviewing the renewal of casino concessions, it should encourage the development of local businesses and allow companies that have contributed to the development of Macau, such as those operating satellite casinos, to receive a gaming license.” Mr Chow pointed out that the mass market and VIP room businesses within these [SJM’s] satellite casinos must pay three to five percent of their revenue to the gaming concessionaire under which they operate. “So, if they get a license, it would help develop and foster fair competition,” he acknowledged. Although we are skeptical of the “offer” that some of the “satellite” casinos may bring – given the lousy casino floors we see in the “Outer Harbour Strip” – Macau Legend Development CEO may have a point. For sure they will not be able to compete with the large, international gaming operators, but the liberalization or at least the granting of more licenses should be on Secretary Leong’s agenda.
The Commission of Audit (CA), lead by Ho Veng On, seems to be on a roll. The CA came out this week with a report slamming the University of Macau for alleged mismanagement of public funds, particularly concerning the staff housing scheme, as well as when it created a research institute over the border. The CA report questions the university’s actions in establishing the UMacau Research Institute Zhuhai, which was registered as a “private, non-business entity.” The UMac admitted here that “some aspects of the establishment of the research institute may not have been handled appropriately.” A victory for Mr Ho. But the allegations concerning the staff housing scheme were a bit lame in the claim that UMac’s actions “are a clear breach of the principles behind the government’s social housing policy.” In this case, the response from the Hengqin side of Macau demolished the argument, “on-campus housing is not meant to be a social benefit; it was designed to…facilitate the university’s pursuit of academic excellence.” The former chief-of-staff of Edmund Ho (not related) and the only top official to survive the latest reshuffle, Mr Ho is, say, playing actively, but one has to be careful of what the “house” holds.
Lawmakers Mak Soi Kun and Zheng Anting supported a group of around 60 Macau residents who claimed to have suffered losses after buying pre-sale flats in Zhuhai. The residents gathered outside the Government Headquarters last week to submit a petition to the MSAR government, asking for its intervention. According to reports, Mr Lo, a representative of the residents, claimed that he bought a pre-sale apartment near New Yuan Ming Palace in Zhuhai in 2008. However, he admitted that he thought the development was “a sound one and did not pay attention to the mainland laws that govern the sales of pre-sale properties.” (!) He also did not realize that the housing project had not been, in fact, granted the relevant certificate. (!!) They were only promised verbally that a contract would be signed after the developer topped the building. (!!!) We have to admit that the responsibility for these awkward comments by local residents must be shared with the gov’t and its “paternalistic” attitude towards solving the people’s problems: giving away fish instead of teaching how to fish. Precarious remedies instead of sustainable solutions. Well, if Mr Lo and his naïve fellow investors are only to blame for their ridiculous predicament, we wouldn’t expect legislators like Messrs Mak and Zheng to ask the local government to intervene in private investments made by locals in an alien jurisdiction.