Today [Friday, June 3] is the 94th day that the protesters have set up and there are only about 7 representatives present under those tents. I conducted an informal measurement on decibel count with an app. Street level noise was at 99 dB. When I went home, near by Senado Square, the noise level was at 75-85 dB, with no other household noises contributing. While this is not going to damage anyone’s hearing. This level is louder than a loud conversation and is relentless. The angle the protesters put their bull horn is aimed directly over the IACM building and as such easily reaches housing and businesses well behind it as well.
What the protesters stand for is not in question, their request is humble and a worthy cause. But their tactics are such that they are winning more detractors than supporters.
It is one thing to perpetuate a nuisance in the name of civil disobedience to drive your message. This is a fine and valid tactic, however when the noise penetrates beyond the public space you are occupying and unwantingly enters the home of residents, then this is an invasion of privacy. Especially given this means of protest is not active but is extremely passive by using a prerecorded track. The repetition is such that one can memorize the lines and it’s stuck in one’s head like a terrible pop song.
On several occasions, I have seen PSP officers in Senado Square talk to the protesters to reduce the volume and they have complied. But as soon as the officers leave their post, the volume goes back up. This demonstrates the protestors understand there is a limit but willingly and continually defy it.
Combine this with the already high ambient noise pollution and the fact there can be more than one protest or a planned event occuring, the noise environment in Macau’s city centre has become utterly unbearable. As such, personal habits change in order to find some peace. For instance, I won’t shop anymore in Senado Square, and those of us who work nights can’t find rest during the day as the noise breaks the peace. As such, the ability to use one’s home to rest and find sanctuary has been take away from us.
I hope the protestors find validation to their cause, but as it is now, they are winning over no hearts or minds. Luke Lineau, Downtown Macau
*In reference to MDT article, “Senado Square residents, shop workers, complain about constant noise” published on May 31.