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Macau

Corruption claims involving ‘millions’ surface over plan to save Macau’s racing greyhounds, as prominent activist lodges complaint

Formal complaint suggests issue involves contracting of private vet to sterilise 523 animals from casino hub’s now-defunct canidrome

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 August, 2018, 10:40am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 August, 2018, 9:03pm

The row over the fate of 532 greyhounds stranded at a defunct Macau dog racing track could take a criminal twist after a prominent animal rights activist lodged a formal complaint with the casino hub’s Commission Against Corruption.

Zoe Tang – a long-time champion of the canines who quit Macau’s only animal rights group earlier this week over how the dogs were being treated – has alleged that corruption was involved in a recent deal to provide a new home and a secure future for the greyhounds.

The anti-graft watchdog – which is known by its Portuguese acronym CCAC – confirmed that an investigation into the allegations was under way.

A spokesman told the Post on Thursday: “The CCAC has received a complaint concerning the care and placement of the greyhounds and will follow it up in accordance with the established procedure.’’

Fears over fate of Macau greyhounds return as animal rights activist quits group

The Post understands that Tang’s complaint alleges “someone is putting millions into their pocket” as part of the housing arrangement. It also alleges that corruption was connected to the contracting of a private vet to carry out the desexing of the dogs after government vets pulled out following the closure of what was Asia’s last legal greyhound racing track.

The latest twist comes just days after cracks began to appear in a high-profile proposal to rehouse more than 500 racing greyhounds still languishing in substandard conditions at the now-closed Macau canidrome.

In an unlikely alliance, Albano Martins, the head of animal rights group Anima, and canidrome owner Angela Leong On-kei – Macau lawmaker, businesswoman and fourth wife of casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun – announced plans to create a new centre to look after the dogs while adoptive homes were found for them.

But less than two weeks after the purpose-built International Centre for the Rehoming of Greyhounds was announced, fresh doubts emerged over the future of the canines.

Canidrome dogs to live in lap of luxury courtesy of unlikely partnership

On Thursday, Tang confirmed she had lodged the corruption complaint but declined to comment further.

The former No 2 at Anima had earlier told the Post that one of the reasons she was resigning was the “ridiculously tight” deadline imposed by officials, who wanted all 523 greyhounds sterilised within a 60-day period.

She also voiced fears that the deadline and the conditions in which the animals were still being kept at the ramshackle canidrome meant some of them could die.

Meanwhile, during the question-and-answer session on Thursday, Macau chief executive Fernando Chui Sai-on said the greyhound racing track site would be redeveloped for social services and educational use. He also disclosed that there were plans to build an underground flood water storage facility beneath the site.

“The government has said the site would be used with the aim to enhance people’s livelihood ... there is no plan to build hotels, commercial blocks or use the site for gaming or related purposes,” Chui told the legislature.

Old schools in the neighbourhood could be relocated to the redeveloped site, Chui said.

He also added: “We may also consider to make use of the underground area to build a flood water storage [site]. It is an option Macau should consider. In other places, such underground flood water storage can help a lot in the event of very heavy rain, or serious flooding.”

Detailed plans would be put forward to the town planning board for discussion, he said.

The site covers an area of over 40,000 square metres.