Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário was at the Legislative Assembly (AL) for the second consecutive day to discuss the 2018 Policy Address with lawmakers, where he engaged in a heated debate with José Pereira Coutinho.
Coutinho raised several questions regarding matters under Rosário’s jurisdiction, accusing the Secretary of disregarding his warnings about the dysfunction within the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG), citing examples of certain bureau chiefs bullying their subordinates.
“Why [is it that] back in 2016 after Typhoon Nida, you didn’t act [on] the warnings I [gave] you and forced us to go to the Commission Against Corruption [CCAC],” Coutinho questioned.
“Do you think it is correct now to make two scapegoats out of the two [SMG] directors? If I were you, I would resign. I warned you as a lawmaker and a representative of 14,000 voters in Macau,” he said grimly, while presenting pictures of the previous occasions where he had mentioned the aforementioned cases.
But that was not the only topic where Coutinho’s questions to Rosário became heated. The lawmaker presented a series of other photographs and a letter from a citizen who was allegedly seriously injured after being hit by a metal plate while crossing Friendship Bridge by motorcycle, an unverified claim as the surveillance cameras did not catch the incident.
Coutinho stated that the equipment “apparently works only selectively and when authorities need to prosecute citizens,” citing previous comments by Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak.
On another enquiry topic, Coutinho claimed that the Secretary “didn’t respect the law by not applying fines to the contractor,” regarding the poor construction quality of the Taipa Ferry Terminal, criticism that was once again supported by photographic evidence.
Referring to correspondence with a staff member from the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT), Coutinho said he had learned that “businessmen involved [in] the construction always have ‘their back covered’ and the public works inspectors are afraid to report mistakes and construction defects, fearing […] retaliation.”
Coutinho urged the Secretary to explain what is really happening with the Islands District Medical Complex and who should be accountable for a delay of more than five years on the project.
Regarding the outcome of Typhoon Hato, Rosário read a section from the CCAC incident report that claimed to have found no evidence of “the violation of any legal provisions from the areas or procedures [concerning] the forecasts of both typhoons Nida and Hato by the SMG.”
“Neither was [there] any evidence that proved that the decisions to hoist the typhoon warning signals by the SMG were in any way influenced by any external factors. I think this is clear,” he concluded.
He noted that former SMG director Fong Soi Kun had been about to retire, reaffirming that he had risen to the top from a junior position and had been a director for over two decades without any prior complaints about his behavior.
About the Islands Hospital situation, Rosario reiterated that he is not “in possession of all the necessary documents, project, budget, measuring, tender dossier and others in order to initiate the procedure of the public tender.”
“We will initiate the procedures of the public tender as soon as we have all the documents that allow [us] to initiate such procedures,” he added.
As for the Taipa Ferry Terminal, the Secretary said that when he invited all the lawmakers to visit the facility, he had mentioned that “the works lacked in quality […] and to have been even able to finish it was already a great achievement for him.” He added that the facility is being repaired to the greatest possible extent, justifying the lack of fines with reference to the low price of the contract. He challenged Coutinho to commence legal procedures against him if he still felt there had been misconduct.
As for the accident on Friendship Bridge, the Secretary said he had received the document and would reply later after conducting more analysis.
Following the questions, Coutinho suggested that the Secretary discuss the Islands Hospital project at one of the monthly meetings of the Executive Council (ExCo) in which “[those] responsible for the design [are represented]”. He was referring to the president of the Architects Association of Macau (AAM), Eddie Wong, whose company oversaw the relevant works.
Rosario said in response that “contrary to what happens in most of the public works ,in this case [Islands Hospital] the project is done by the user and the DSSOPT is only responsible for building. Why this happens, I don’t know. I was not even here when this was decided in this way.”
Current schemes take priority over ‘third type of public housing’
Replying to several lawmakers’ queries about proposals for a “third kind of public housing” and its “disappearance” from the Policy Address, Raimundo do Rosário explained that the government is focused on solving matters pertaining to the two existing social housing schemes: affordable acquisition and renting.
“Since the government hasn’t been able to conclude the works on [current] public housing, we will first try to finish the works on the affordable acquisition and affordable renting schemes. Only after that could I think about others such as [those mentioned by the lawmakers] for [the elderly] and for youngsters,” Rosário said.
As for the temporary houses that lawmaker Si Ka Lon said the Chief Executive (CE) had ordered to be built in Zone A of the new landfills – which would allow the old neighborhoods to undergo urban renewal – Rosario said, “I don’t think that the CE ever said that. At least I never heard that from him. We are discussing this problem [in] the urban renewal committee, but I have no information from the CE of these kinds of houses in Zone A.”
The Secretary also reaffirmed his availability to participate in a potential change in the land law if such an initiative is launched.