Rear Window | Fever mounts at… Macau SAR

Severo Portela

Until the matter of the candidate – or candidates – selected to replace Chief Executive Chui Sai On is unequivocally settled, the political environment will be one in which the rumor mill will suggest anything that might be possible in the MSAR… anything within a stone’s throw of wild guessing. As in times of mild epidemics affecting MSAR, we ought to put up as a disclaimer the unintentional choice of Luis Buñuel 50s movie Fever Mounts at El Pao (La Fièvre Monte à El Pao). It is simply a coloring of the anxiety towards the coming Typhoon Season as a metaphor for this political void.

Let us begin from a different angle, with the expectations of the sitting Chief Executive in the final leg of his double tenure. We believe Chui Sai On has been long wishing for a quiet period to lick the wounds of his office at the helm of MSAR, to let go of the past and take care of his legacy and immediate future.

That is why we cannot understand the CE opting to appeal the decision of the Court of Second Instance that ruled in favor of the former director of the Meteorological Bureau, thus ruling against the improper dismissal of disgraced Fong Soi Kun in the aftermath of the Typhoon Hato. Although it is perfectly legal, bringing the decision to the Court of Final Instance (TUI) may look like (to the average common-sense resident) a vindictive scapegoating, excessive force, if not despotic, since Fong Soi Kun, despite his alleged failures of accountability and diligence, seems to be footing the bill of everything that went astray during Hato.

All is set to prevent a second series of disruptions of the magnitude Hato brought to Macau. Besides having been piling up new equipment and human resources, the government, according to Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, plans to submit a civil protection bill – including the new crime of false social alarm – before the Typhoon Season arrives to the region. All set, indeed, but fingers crossed as we are dealing with men dealing with Nature.

Regardless of the dire consequences, the anxiety the Typhoon Season brings to Macau is in a way routine; on the other hand, this anxiety is alien to a well-crafted process to select the Chief Executive; but not in this year of 2019. The dawdling of the selection of the candidates can be a source of worries to the incumbent Chief Executive.

The step by step unfolding of the preliminary selection seems to be a wicked game. The only candidate de facto is Ho Iat Seng. He was the only one to assume a “formal” will to run.

However, at the “material” level the agenda has been captured by the delegation Secretary for Economy and Finance headed to Beijing. Lionel Leong met with the Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council, Zhang Xiaoming, as well as the heads of Insurance, Finance, Banking and Securities regulatory commissions.

If we refer to the agenda – building the China platform for trade and cooperation, especially in the financial component, with Lusophone countries; Macau to become the Renminbi clearing house for the PSCs; communication between the SAR and the Country – and add the importance of the retouching of the casino business…it looks like an endorsement for five years.

In our final notes we mention that image the Cultural Affairs Bureau accidentally plagiarized, later to be solved by money (since there is no such thing as a copy as flattery); the verdicts upon Occupy Central 9 that Amnesty International HK called “a crushing blow for freedom of expression and peaceful protest”. And an always appropriately quotable Zizek: we feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom!

Categories Opinion