Macau architects are hoping for the best after the government decided to invalidate an unfair contest to design the city's central library and launch a new competition. However, after watching the top two prizes in the canned 2008 contest go to an employee of the brother of chief executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on, many are also preparing for the worst. The Cultural Affairs Bureau, under its new chief, painter Ung Vai-meng, is mulling over rules for the new competition and will announce them later this month, according to a bureau spokesman. Ung took over last month from Heidi Ho Lai Chun da Luz, who was responsible for organising the original contest. Rui Leao, vice-president of the Architects Association of Macau, said the decision to organise a new competition was a good sign that the government was prepared to do things properly. However, the unfair contest has done its damage and even news of its relaunch has left some architects cold. 'A lot of colleagues are unimpressed after wasting a large amount of time, energy and money on the first competition,' said architect Joy Choi Tin-tin. Choi's architectural team in 2008 spent one month and about 100,000 patacas on a design for the contest. 'We've lost much of our faith in the way the government organises such events,' she said. Hopes were high for the 2008 event, which was Macau's first open architectural contest in at least nine years and was meant to create a new landmark and cultural icon for the city. It attracted 31 submissions from architects. But controversies plagued the contest and dealt a blow to the morale of Macau architects. In July 2008, Vong Man-cheng of CAA City Planning and Engineering Consultants won the top two prizes. CAA president Jose Chui Sai-peng is a younger brother of Fernando Chui, who was then Macau's culture minister. The fact that CAA was hired by the government to plan the central library project also fuelled speculation of a conflict of interest. In 2006, Fernando Chui authorised the Cultural Affairs Bureau to hire CAA for the project, according to an issue of the government gazette. Architects also felt insulted by the government's requirement in 2008 that contestants sign a waiver of their intellectual property rights. The government said then that it would 'choose suitable professionals to further' the winning design. After an investigation, the Commission Against Corruption of Macau concluded that the 2008 competition was unfair but involved no corruption. CAA has denied any conflict of interest, saying Vong had no access to any inside information. Leao said the appointment of Ung, a reputable painter and curator, increased optimism that the government would right the wrongs done in the original contest. 'He is a good artist who understands what cultural needs Macau people have,' Leao said. Ung, 52, studied painting at the Oporto College of Fine Arts and Lisbon-based AR.CO. He was known for running high-quality exhibitions when he was director of the Macau Museum of Art, a post he left two years ago. Leao, whose architectural team submitted an entry in the 2008 contest, said he may take part in the new competition, depending on the rules to be announced. The Cultural Affairs Bureau said the new contest would follow international standards and include in its jury representatives from the Architects Association. There will be two phases: conceptual design, followed by a feasibility test. The competition is scheduled to end by the middle of next year, with construction of the library to start at the end of the year. According to a government plan unveiled in 2008, the library will be built on the site of Macau's old court building on Avenue Praia Grande and the adjacent site of the Judiciary Police building. The main body of the former court building will be incorporated into the new library to preserve the 59-year-old structure, considered a heritage site. Architect Francisco Vizeu Pinheiro, a visiting professor at the University of Saint Joseph in Macau, said he was not enthusiastic about the new contest but might still take part if the rules were fair. His architectural team submitted an entry in 2008. 'Hopefully all contestants will be treated equally and each company will be allowed to submit just one entry,' he said. Choi also said she was waiting to see the rules before deciding whether to take part in the new competition. She said it was important to publish the list of jury members before the contest began to enhance transparency. 'Too many librarians and too few architects in the jury could cause problems,' Choi said. At the beginning of the 2008 contest, the architects were kept in the dark about who was on the jury. Halfway through the competition, the government revealed a few, but not all, of the jurors' names. Choi called on the government to exhibit the 31 entries submitted in the 2008 contest so people could compare them and learn from them.