Macau’s cash handout can’t compensate for loss of lifestyle

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 June, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 June, 2016, 12:15am

Starting next month, permanent and non-permanent Macau residents will receive a handout of 9,000 patacas and 5,400 patacas respectively.

The cash sharing scheme has been an annual event since it was adopted by former chief executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah in 2008 in response to a fierce protest organised by different associations.

I have talked about this welfare with my friends living in Hong Kong, who unanimously were in favour of this scheme, saying that many Hongkongers had really been jealous of Macau people enjoying a variety of benefits from the government.

What my friends think is partly true compared to the current situation in Hong Kong, where incomes for many have almost remained unchanged over the past decade and youngsters struggle to find a bright future. However, Macau people have already paid a heavy price for the economic boom.

Nowadays, commoners are unable to buy their own houses because of collusion between the government and property developers.

Local residents inevitably have to bear the burden of the influx of foreign workers, to whom we attribute a more competitive job market, traffic chaos, and high home prices and rents. We now living in an area of about 30.3 kilometres with a population of around 640,000 together with the foreign labourers and an estimated 30 million travellers every year.

We have no big parks like Victoria Park and Kowloon Park in Hong Kong. Most of our large football pitches have been transformed into commercial use. We no longer enjoy the fresh air we once did because of the many casinos, hotels and high-rises constructed in the downtown area, suburbs and hills, and there are around 200,000 vehicles on the roads.

The twisted values in our society have us bound to destructive ways of life, especially among youngsters whose minds have been occupied with materialism. Macau is no longer a tranquil and elegant city after large-scale exploitation over the past 14 years. The economic boom is actually at the expense of our quality of life.

That’s why most indigenous people prefer the days before the open policy of the gaming industry in 2002.

Barnaby Ieong, Macau