Macau political group calls for 'colonial' pillbox's demolition

Military expert suspects residential development nearby may be real motivating factor at work

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 5:33am

A political group in Macau has called for the demolition of a pillbox built against a possible Japanese invasion because of its colonial links.

The Association of Political Science and Law of Macau placed a newspaper advert last Friday claiming the pillbox - a coastal defence facility built in the 1930s - was "a symbol of colonial power and colonialism". The association is believed to be related to a group of alumni of China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing.

"Conserving it would obviously hurt the feelings of hundreds of thousands of people who love [China] as well as Macau," the group said.

The pillbox is on Coloane Hill, on the 7.6 square-kilometre Coloane island, in the southernmost part of the former Portuguese enclave.

Conserving it would obviously hurt the feelings of hundreds of thousands of people who love [China] as well as Macau

In response to public concern about the advert, Macau government officials have reportedly promised to look into the matter and consider the possible protection of the pillbox.

But Macau-based commentator and military expert Antony Wong Tung cast doubt on the government's commitment.

He also wondered if local officials knew more about the affair than they were letting on.

"There is an [ongoing] residential development nearby, which could turn into a 100-metre tall luxurious private apartment complex upon completion," Wong said.

"So the biggest problem is whether there is any collusion between the government and property tycoons."

There are rumours that the site of the development was originally government land and it was unclear how it became a private project.

Wong also raised questions about what he called the "mysterious" motivation of the association, because they often "write articles in support of the government, but not in a style familiar to people in the city".

Another reason why the pillbox should not be torn down is that it could be of historical significance, according to Wong.

A society of Macau historians has also called for a discussion about the pillbox.

In response to those who suggested that the pillbox should be torn down, the society has called for a clarification of what are the city's historical monuments, and to conserve them if they stand as historical evidence of Macau's development.

Under Macau's Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution, it is the government's responsibility to protect scenic spots, historical sites and other historical relics.