Q&A | Edith Mak: Representative of Seac Pai Van residents | ‘We cannot tolerate any risk of accidents happening’

Representatives of Seac Pai Van residents are still disappointed that the building of warehouses to store hazardous materials near Cotai residential areas is proceeding.

A representative of the residents, Edith Mak, spoke to the Times, noting that those living near the area will continue urging the government to build the hazardous materials warehouses only at the reclaimed areas of Zone E1 in the future.

Mak also noted that there might be some kind of underhanded business going on, citing the Chief Executive’s explanation for the choice of the location.

The CE previously explained that the location at Concordia Industrial Park will avoid unnecessary storage and transportation across the city.

With no replies yet from the government to the petition letter, which acquired 7,426 signatures, the representative said that they are in talks with the neighborhood on their next actions.

Macau Daily Times (MDT) – The Chief Executive last week announced that the construction of a dangerous goods warehouse will proceed despite the group’s petition. What are your current plans?

Edith Mak (EM) – The government is actually going to build a public school there, which had already been planned, as well as a recreational cycling area. That is why we hope that the government will also withdraw the building in that location, because there will be students in the community.  In view of these two urban plans to build a school and recreational cycling area, we think that it’s not sensible to build the storage facility in that location as well.

The government has to stand up and commit to not building those warehouses in the nearest location to the residential area. Also, there are over 3,000 bottles of flammable gasses and chemicals there. We want to tell the government that since they already had plans to relocate the temporary storage, why not just go ahead and accelerate the process and build it on the reclaimed area instead of building one here now and then having to relocate? It’s redundant. Eventually it will be moved, so why don’t they just stick to the location and build a permanent storage there instead of fighting with the people and convincing [us] that it is a safe location.

MDT – Does this failure to commit to a timeline also concern Seac Pai Van residents?

EM – We have been very clear on this; that is not even a good location for such a facility. Even if there’s a timeline, we cannot tolerate any risk of accidents happening. We cannot let that facility sit next to our houses.

MDT – The CE previously said that the government is concerned with creating a healthy environment for residents. Does this statement contradict his most recent announcement on the warehouse plans?

EM – Totally. I think the residents agree [and] all are laughing about it. It’s a total contradiction. The most contradictory is how they name the public housing area with four Chinese characters: 뵨諧廣場 [meaning live happy, work happy]. It’s totally not reflective on what the government is trying to do now.

MDT – Aside from the two recent activities that included a petition delivery and an assembly, what is next?

EM – We will try to give some time for the government to respond to our request. We have not received any positive or satisfactory response, which we have been waiting on for almost two weeks. We are starting to suspect that there’s something behind this. Also, the community is also asking what is behind all this. In spite of so many people’s resistance, the government still insists on building the warehouse there. We’re all suspecting that there is something behind all this. They already explained that the reason why they chose that location in Colane is to make the gasoline supplies reduce their logistical costs.

Why would they [the government] want to help these business operators or the companies, while giving up the safety of the public? In other words, they are sacrificing our safety to benefit these companies and business owners.

MDT – With that being said, what options is the group considering?

EM – We are examining possibilities of escalating these issues to reach more public awareness. At this stage I cannot reveal that much because we are all in planning [with] other petition representatives. The ball is in the government’s court now but we won’t stop planning further actions.

MDT – So the group is not confident in the government’s promise of ensuring safety measures when these warehouses are built?

EM – Nobody from the government can come up and say that no accidents will happen.

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