Macau 'money lure' amid Hato lashing

Top News | Phoenix Un 15 Nov 2017

For the 11th consecutive year, Macau permanent residents will get a cash handout from the government - 9,000 patacas (HK$8,737) each.

A political commentator called it hush money in the wake of the government's poor performance when Severe Typhoon Hato hammered the gambling hub in August, killing six people.

Some analysts dubbed the cash distribution policy as a painkiller for citizens.

The handout was announced by Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on yesterday in his policy address for fiscal year 2018.

The announcement comes a day after Macau's Legislative Assembly accepted the court's demand to decide by tomorrow on whether to suspend young pro-democracy lawmaker Sulu Sou Ka- hou for his involvement in a criminal case relating to a protest in May last year.

Sou was charged with aggravated disobedience under which offenders can be jailed for up to two years. If he is jailed for more than 30 days, he could also be disqualified as a legislator.

In his address, Chui also said non- permanent residents will get 5,400 patacas each.

It will be the fourth straight year that the handout for permanent residents has been pegged at 9,000 patacas. It is the highest level since the scheme was implemented in 2008 when Edmund Ho Hau-wah was chief executive.

In addition to the handouts, Chui raised the subsidy for seniors - those aged 65 years and above - from 8,000 patacas to 9,000 patacas.

It is estimated the handouts will cost the government 12.89 billion patacas.

Chu also enumerated the measures that are being taken in the wake of the killer typhoon that devastated the region.

"The government will construct a stormwater pumping station in the inner harbor and bidding will take place in the first half of next year," Chui said. "Outfalls will also be checked to prevent seawater intrusion."

The government will implement temporary flood-proof work from Ilha Verde to the inner harbor and confirm the construction of storm-surge barriers as soon as possible after discussions with Guangdong province, he said.

Management of underground rooms and car parks - where six people died during Hato - will be improved, Chui said. Regulations regarding typhoon and storm-surge warnings will be amended and the professional training of staff at the meteorological bureau will be upgraded.

Chui proposed amending the official accountability system next year, regulating officials in the areas of administration, politics, law and morality. The government will improve its official assessment mechanism.

Chui did not say if the changes are due to severe criticisms of the government after Hato.

"As the SAR has been established for 18 years, we find it necessary to review the mechanisms," he said.

Macau political commentator Anthony Wong Tung said the handout is "of no use" to alleviate public resentment after the disaster.

"The surge-proofing measures are a problem. Many small enterprises lost more than 1 million patacas during Hato. So 9,000 patacas is nothing," Wong said. "It's just political hush money."

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