Macau Opinion | Signs of worrying times

What does Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak have to gain by launching a campaign of apparent misinformation in the city?

This is the man who recently launched initiatives seeking to transform Macau into a police state. Macau, which is one of the safest cities in the world, where its citizens do not fear to walk the streets at night, where there are practically no robberies and even organised crime operates within strict parameters, in specific niches and without impacting local society.

This is also the man who wants to criminalise the so-called “rumour”. Apparently it will be up to him to define what is rumour and what is not. And the way things are going – witness the examples of controversial expulsions of ‘undesirables’ from Hong Kong – without explanation.

It will not be gratifying to see yourself in these days, in a city that wants to be international and where nothing justifies the recent ironclad positioning of the Secretary for Security. A kind of McCarthysm dredged up and hosed down from 1950s America*. Replacing accusations of communism with those of terrorism or similar criminal activities.

During a press conference yesterday, the Secretary claimed that there are signs of national security risks in the city. Wow! Really?

As always, Mr. Wong declined to specify such risks, offering not one iota of information. But was keen, nevertheless, to launch the shadow of suspicion. Why? Because there is still not enough information to support such claims? What are these allegations, so different from others he seems so keen to classify as “rumours”, and that he wants to criminalise and send their authors to jail for?

We did not need to wait long.

Predictability is another sign of doubt when someone wants to force a justification: the Executive Council announced the by-law proposal of establishing a National Security Committee, following a previous statement by the Office of the Secretary for Security proclaiming the necessity of enhancing the National Security Law by introducing complementary legislation.

Macau is becoming a less better city when it has all the possibilities to become much better. These attempts to stifle citizens’ right of expression and to decide unilaterally who is good and who is bad, who can launch a rumour and who cannot, will assuredly have a long-term impact upon the MSAR.

We are at a crossroads where commonsense and intelligent leadership is needed more then ever.

*A vociferous campaign against alleged communists in the US Government and other institutions initiated by Senator Joseph McCarthy from 1950–54. Many of the accused were blacklisted or lost their livelihoods although most did not, in fact, belong to the Communist Party (Wikipedia)

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