Casino city Macau needs to spare land so its children can go out and play

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 February, 2017, 12:15am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 February, 2017, 10:01pm

Once, as I was having breakfast in a tea restaurant, a man aged 30-something sat down opposite me. He looked tired and I found he had just got off duty from his working place, a casino.

He groaned over the policies of the Macau government in recent years. We then had a chat on the economic development since the handover of Macau. The man told me how he longed for an amusement park when he was a child. And he also knew there had been plans to construct an Ocean Park at a site in Taipa in the times of his childhood.

However, the land originally chosen to build an amusement park has been in disuse for over 20 years. “My children often complain that there are few places to play in Macau, they tell me they want to have a theme park”, he said. “I think even when my children grow up, our dream will not come true.” I sympathised, as it has been a question for most children of the former Portuguese colony – “When will we have our own theme park?”

We cannot deny the government has implemented various policies to benefit the younger generation of Macau – such as 15 years of free education and stationery subsidies for needy students – but seldom does our government care about their outdoor activities. Most of our large football pitches and leafy suburbs have been transformed for commercial use.

In Hong Kong, there are two famous theme parks, Ocean Park and Disneyland, and many suburbs and mountains, where children can enjoy outdoor activities with their families. But the children of Macau have very limited space to enjoy life in this way, and most prefer to stay at home playing computer games during their free time and are immersed in electronic devices.

Children in Hong Kong are also increasingly becoming keen on playing online games, but they still have a choice of playing outdoors. I hope the government of Macau will one day spare land to build a theme park for our children. More importantly, the government should provide them with more room for outdoor activities.

Barnaby Ieong, Macau