Our Desk | Not enough to be alive, you must look alive

Renato Marques

In ancient Rome, an episode occurred around the year 62 BC involving Julius Caesar’s wife Pompeia Sula. It led to the creation of the famous quote, “Caesar’s wife must not only be honest; she must look honest.”
The quote highlights the fact that when you have a high status and reputation to keep, you must not only “do the good thing” but also you must care for “looking like you are doing the good thing,” otherwise, distrust from a group of people or society more broadly can lead to the creation of rumors that might jeopardize your position.
The same applies to businesses, companies and even individual people that have acquired higher status in society.
In fact, “Do good” and “Look good” do not always match perfectly and if in ancient Rome the second one was already important, nowadays the “Look good” pretty much accounts for everything, despite that popular proverb that says, “Appearances are often deceptive.”
The same happens now in a time of difficulties and social alarm due to the worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19, a microscopic virus that came to remove the veil of all our fragilities.
In the past few weeks, we have seen Macau being highly praised by many regional and international entities, as well as people, for the way it battled this virus outbreak.
Yes, we are alive, but… (just like Caesar’s wife) we also need to “look alive.” Our hospitality and gaming industry, our main pillars that for decades have sustained our economy, our international status and our social wellbeing, play a very important role in keeping these “appearances.”
After long months confined to the four corners of my apartment due to a health condition that had nothing to do with the virus, finally, I managed to gain enough confidence and physical strength to go out of the house and see the city and its developments.
Looking for some new clothes (unfortunately, home confinement also often brings some extra pounds) I went to the Cotai area, thinking that having a larger choice in a smaller area would help me to find what I needed without roaming up and down the city.
But, to my surprise, I found myself not in the booming Cotai Strip of other days but on a Macau version of New Jersey’s Atlantic City where the once glowing and shiny integrated resorts now present dark shades of severe depression.
I know that we all are suffering from the consequences of the COVID-19. I also know that there is almost no influx of tourists and that locals should refrain from walking around unless it is necessary, but the emptiness I saw was almost scary.
But scarier than the fact there were a very low number of people in the casinos and shopping areas, and even a significant number of stores were closed, was the neglect of the public areas. Corridors were as empty as the hand soap and toilet roll dispensers in the lavatories.
Most of the stores that were open for business present reduced working schedules with closing times coming as early as 8 p.m., and many no longer offer “free Wi-Fi.”
In the malls, the scenario was devastating, with corridors filled with the silence of the closed shutters. In some cases, even the corridor lights were completely off, turning the roaming of the mall into a kind of “haunted house” theme park adventure, especially when out of the darkness jumps a couple of security staff members in face masks as they patrol the area.
Suddenly I started thinking, “I am glad there are not many tourists coming. What would they say if they saw this?”

Categories Opinion