Macau is on track to become richest place in the world, but has stopped being liveable
- Beneath the bright lights and displays of wealth, Macau’s story is tragic, with a stark decline in liveability
Aside from gambling, there are several other elements – parades, festivals, exhibitions and local delicacies – that make Macau a city of diversity, prosperity and affluence. This year, the International Monetary Fund ranked the casino hub – with its per capita GDP of US$122,489 – second behind Qatar on the list of the richest places on Earth and predicted the former Portuguese colony would overtake the wealthy Persian Gulf nation by 2020.
The great achievement attained by Macau government has made many other cities envious, some of which thus try to follow Macau, legalising the gaming industry so that they have a shot at becoming the third Las Vegas.
It seems the revenue gained from gambling is attractive and irresistible. But while there are the advantages, there are also disadvantages. Macau has been transformed from “city of God” to a “city of vice”. Many areas in the city thrive on the industries of pornography, gaming and narcotics. The brilliant colours and lights conceal many tragedies. As an old saying goes, “A rotten interior beneath a fine exterior”.
I was told about 16 years ago by a man of sophistication from Zhuhai, a Chinese city near Macau, that my city would become a haven for criminals due to the liberalisation of gaming. What he had conjectured, unfortunately, had already been realised. I have sometimes overheard passers-by in the streets saying they preferred being under the Portuguese administration to the present government. Before the handover, people could enjoy a healthier, quality lifestyle despite not being rich.
Given that most precious land in Macau has given way to economic development, particularly to casino operators, the remaining leisure space for inhabitants to enjoy has been steadily dwindling. Even the two artificial lakes, located in Nam Van and Sai Van, are no exception, as the former has been reactivated as a leisure attraction, providing tourists and visitors with water activities, beverages and shopping. And the latter, the last spot of tranquillity left on the peninsula, may also be exploited as a tourist attraction, according to an article published in a local newspaper recently.
Macau is no longer a liveable city, though still a paradise for people in pursuit of money.
Barnaby Ieong, Macau