Deadly Typhoon Hato raises serious doubts about the Macau government

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 5:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 11:02pm

I was very disappointed by the performance of the chief executive of Macau, Fernando Chui Sai-on, at a government press conference held the day after the casino city was hit by Typhoon Hato.

I did not think either he or his press secretary were forthcoming on a sensitive question asked by a journalist about the government’s response to the storm.

This will only have increased public concerns about Mr Chui’s administration. There should have been a full and frank disclosure on his part to clear up any doubts.

Instead, we just got more sweeteners aimed at appeasing the citizens of Macau. However, as one caller said on a radio forum, handouts will not bring back those who died during the storm.

One day before Typhoon Hato hit, I was looking at the wind direction on the internet. It was clear this was going to be a serious storm and that Macau was directly in its path. So why was the typhoon signal so low in Macau when in Hong Kong it had already been raised first to No 8 and then to No 10?

It is not the first time this has happened. Over the past few years, Macau has been slow to react to approaching storms.

Early on the morning of Typhoon Hato, the No 8 signal had already been hoisted in Hong Kong, but the Macau observatory had still not made a decision.

I wonder why it failed to give residents an early warning that they were facing such a powerful storm. There should have been no room for procrastination. Observatory chiefs should have acted without hesitation.

For as long as I can remember, officials in Macau have been ill-prepared for typhoons. Unfortunately, the catastrophe claimed 10 lives, with many more injured.

The Macau government did apologise for its mistakes and the head of the observatory resigned, but the core problem for the administration remains.

As long as the administration chooses to give priority to conglomerates and the gaming industry, ordinary Macau residents will continue to lose out. The lives of citizens matter more than profits.

Barnaby Ieong, Macau