Project Hac-Sa

Petition on suspending Hac-Sa Kun Iam statue surpasses 8,000 signatures

An online petition calling for the withdrawal of construction at Hac-Sa Reservoir has collected over 8,600 signatures in three days.

Initiated by the Association of Synergy of Macao, the petition was on-going as of press time yesterday. Addressed directly to the Chief Executive, the petition demands suspension of the proposed inauguration of a Kun Iam statue at the reservoir, retention of the barbecue stoves and grass skiing range there, as well as an explanation of the budget that soared from the initially proposed MOP230 million to MOP1.6 billion. The statue itself will cost MOP42 million.

Comparing the cost of the project with regular government social spending, the government has allocated less than MOP1 billion for fire services, public health and hygiene, as well as meteorological and geophysical services respectively, according to the Public Budget for 2023. Meanwhile, about MOP6.19 billion has been allotted for medical services. The city’s civil protection system that helps protect against natural hazards has MOP36 million allocated to ensure people’s safety this year.

The petition initiator, whose management involved lawmaker Ron Lam, has been questioning the direct designation of the Kun Iam statue project to a company in Guangzhou as early as in April. Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong, in response to press questions at the Jul.18 press conference announcing the project, emphasized that the statue is designed and will be sculpted by a “nationally accredited master sculptor,” which in his opinion explained the mode of tender assignment and the price tag.

The association also questioned why there was no advance public announcement on the ground-breaking or the commencement of construction. It cited members of the public as saying that half of the grass skiing range had been damaged.

In response to the Times on the question about advance warnings, Cheong suggested that running public consultation on each municipal project would be unrealistic.

Members of the public also wondered how the statue is related to a collection of youth facilities.

Lawmaker José Pereira Coutinho also raised questions regarding the project, mainly in the areas of public funds disposal and advanced public consultations, if any.

On Jul. 21, local Macao Daily News reported that charity organization Fuhong Society of Macau supported the proposed inauguration of Kun Iam statue at Hac-Sa Reservoir. The unnamed leader of the organization identified the future statue as “a new tourists’ attraction that will lead cultural tourism and multilateral development.”

Kai Fong Association-affiliated lawmaker Leong Hong Sai has suggested the government reconsider the relationship between the future facilities and the statue, and make delicate explanations, according to a report by local Shimin Daily published on Jul. 20. He added that some Kun Iam believers hoped the government would not only inaugurate a statue there, but also build religious facilities to support the statue.

Speaking to the same publication, municipal affairs advisor Chan Pou Sam has applauded the project’s “general perspective” and the government’s dropping “isolated planning style,” as reported on Jul. 19.

Three Kai Fong Association lawmakers, Ho Ion Sang, Ngan Iek Hang and Leong suddenly made a stand yesterday. In a statement, they cited members of the public as “expressing worries over the inauguration of a Kun Iam statue and the enhancement of facilities at the reservoir.” They added that the project should be reconsidered to preserve natural harmony.

Women’s Federation’s Wong Kit Cheng and Stanley Ma, both lawmakers, also cited public concerns to support their calls for the government to reconsider the project. They suggest the government suspend the current construction at the reservoir to “listen to more people.”

Four trade unionist lawmakers have also suggested the government reconsider the project.


Society does not buy in overhaul of Hac-Sa

Social commentators and social media users have spoken up against the project at Hac-Sa, local media have reported.

Overhauling a natural area of such scale with extensive use of concrete may negatively impact nature and ecology, urban planner Lam Iek Chit has told local media outlet Macao Daily News.

His worries are based on the breadth and depth of the project, as he predicts that the ground at Hac-Sa will be dug deep to facilitate the project, as he believes high-rise will not be permitted in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, he could not ascertain the scale of the architectures to be built at Hac-Sa. Expecting adventure facilities to not be too expensive, he compared public projects with similar price tag – the new Central Library designs for Nam Van and for Tap Seac – and worries that the scale of the Hac-Sa architectures will be enormous. Lam then cited the Master Urban Plan to explain his confusion. The plan – which is a law – states that Hac-Sa should be reserved for roads, plantations or parks. He wonders whether building massive structures there is prohibited under this provision.

He also was not convinced of the link between the planned MOP42-million Kun Iam statue and youth activities.

Holding similar views is lawmaker Ron Lam, who criticized the government for spending public funds without restraint, according to local newspaper Shimin Daily. He also suspected the government was using the Hac-Sa youth campsite project as a strawman for the Kun Iam statue.

He raised that, during the policy question sessions at the end of last year, the government reiterated that the seven hectares of land at Hac-Sa would be used for a youth campsite. Back then, no news was released that the land area concerned would be expanded and changes made. It was only revealed by hikers who asked the lawmaker what was happening.

Then, the lawmaker questioned why the government had decided to eliminate the barbecue area and grass skiing range at Hac-Sa Reservoir – popular among the public on holidays – without public consultation.

The lawmaker demanded that the government suspend the Kun Iam statue project and make further explanations to the public.

Some took to social media to complain about the project, questioning the need for three major Kun Iam statues in the 33.3-square-kilometer Macau. AL

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