Sense and sensibility

Paulo Coutinho

The Pearl Horizon scandal reached the absurd this week.

On one side we have hundreds of desperate pre-sale buyers who have lived in distress since the government reclaimed the land from the developer in 2015. According to recent revelations four have died and there is news of people on the verge of suicide, especially among those 400 who have paid for their flats in full but also among the purchasers who have mortgages, paying interest for something they may never see materialized.

On the other hand, there’s the developer, Polytex group, that sued the government in the process but the courts rejected its claims, arguing that the authorities acted within the law, the controversial Land Law.

Among all those plots repossessed by the blind hand of the government, which in some cases is itself to be blamed for plots being left undeveloped, Pearl Horizon stands out because it affects the “little” people, mostly families that employed their savings and/or acquired debt to buy flats in the pre-sale market of what seemed to be a very appealing investment. The sales pitch of the high-rise buildings was location, location, location: close to the artificial island where the Delta Bridge ramifies into Macau.

Last weekend Chui Sai On held a “get together” event with 11 legislators representing 19, thus constituting a majority in the AL. This lawmaker’s group conveyed suggestions and ideas to solve this problem “without amending the Land Law” – somewhat wishful thinking.

For the president of the PH buyers association, Kou Meng Pok, the meeting was but a political move, “without consequence” to those who bought property and who see but a bleak financial horizon. “It only serves the interests of a deep political struggle,” reflecting on how divisive the matter is in our society.

Kou said the situation is deteriorating to the point of “domestic violence” [sic] within the group of homebuyers; i.e. the ominous investment is causing conflict within some affected families.

Kou was speaking to the media after he and colleagues met with officials from the Social Affairs Bureau (IAS) this week in an effort to seek emotional and psychological assistance – which, I believe, has been hardly made available to them.

In a statement later on published by the government communication channels, IAS appealed to those “individuals emotionally disturbed [by the Pearl Horizon scandal]” to face life’s problems “in a rational manner” to avoid creating “emotional problems” for themselves and their families. Come again?!

Adding to the lack of sense, the government, in its own words, shows now a sheer lack of sensitivity.

Categories Editorial