Macau NPC deputies defend Portuguese pillbox on Macau

NPC deputies defend Portuguese structure amid calls to tear down colonial facilities

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, 4:59am

Two Macau deputies to the National People's Congress have called for better regulation by the local government to prevent land disputes.

They were speaking in response to a row over a private residential project on Coloane Island, which could lead to the demolition of an 80-year-old Portuguese pillbox.

Complications set in when a Beijing-linked group of academic and legal experts ran advertisements in Macau newspapers calling for the demolition of colonial military facilities in Macau.

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual session of the NPC in Beijing, deputy Ho Sut-heng, who is also an executive councillor in Macau, said she hoped the government would ensure its "gate-keeping" role on the issue.

"We have to strike a balance," Ho said. "We cannot only think of economic development … our history needs to be preserved."

We have to strike a balance," Ho said. "We cannot only think of economic development … our history needs to be preserved

Ho emphasised that she was not familiar with the project in Coloane, but said she believed the government had a duty because land was scarce in Macau.

"The society has paid a price [as Macau develops] … and land in Coloane should be treasured," she said.

Another NPC deputy, Macau lawmaker Jose Chui Sai-peng, also said the incident highlighted the lack of land in Macau.

"We are pushing forward a legislation on town planning … and I hope it can be done by this summer," Chui said.

He said there were many laws relating to land and town planning.

"A unified law on planning is absent, so sometimes questions arise when [the land use of a site] needs to be changed."

Ho, Chui and Kou Hoi In, also an NPC deputy and lawmaker, suggested that public opinion and historical value should be the deciding factors on whether a monument or pillbox should be preserved - instead of its status as a military facility.

Meanwhile, Li Gang , who stepped down as deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong to take up the deputy post in Beijing's office in Macau, said he had adapted to the life in his new job.

"The people in Macau are sincere, honest and loyal," Li said. "This has made a deep impression on me. They are also very passionate."

He also indicated that his workload had become lighter because Macau was a smaller city than Hong Kong.

Li is rumoured to take over from Bai Zhijian, who will reach retirement age at the end of the year, to head the Macau liaison office. Li has said he has no idea when his post will change.