Macau | Report on heritage preservation concluded with no input from committee

The updated report about measures taken to safeguard the city's heritage has been concluded and will soon be shipped to UNESCO, although members of the Heritage Committee had not a chance to glance at it

Macau (MNA) – The Macau SAR Government has concluded its updated report on plans for safeguarding the city’s Historic Centre without consulting members of the Heritage Committee, further confirming on Monday the intention from the State Party, China, to submit the report to UNESCO on or before December 1, 2018.

The announcement was made by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chon Weng (pictured, centre), during an extraordinary meeting of the local committee, which also counted with the participation of national representatives, namely Zhao Yun, the director of the World Heritage Centre of China within the Academy of Cultural Heritage of China, and Wang Lijun, the vice-president of the China chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

In particular, the report responds to UNESCO’s criticism raised in a letter to the MSAR Government and later addressed in a deliberation during the 41 session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) held in Krakow, Poland, in July 2017, after local authorities had been slammed by the committee for poor management of the city’s listed sites.

Hence, the MSAR Government was requested to submit the updated report in question – with a total of eight parts now being updated – attesting to the current situation of the city’s heritage sites and presenting the Protection and Management Plan (PMP) for safeguarding protected sites from potential attacks mainly brought by economic development.

After a general presentation provided by Ms. Zhao in which no specific point of the report produced by Macau – in conjunction with Chinese experts – was disclosed, members of the local heritage committee raised some objection to the fact that they had not seen the final document.

“This is an informative report. It will be evaluated during the [WHC]’s plenary session to allow deliberation in regard to the value preservation and the current situation of preservation,” said Ms. Zhao.

The next WHC meeting will be held in Manama (Bahrein) from June 24 to July 4, 2019.

Zhao added that, following the institution’s modus operandi, if “deficiencies” are detected in the report, the WHC can request another updated report to be produced in 2019 and then evaluated the following year.

Stephen Lee, Macau’s bishop, was among the few who questioned the lack of transparency in regard to the production of the report.

“I would like to know when the members of the committee will be allowed to have access to the report,” he contended.

The director of the World Heritage Centre of China explained that the document would only be made public after the WHC had evaluated and eventually approved it – pushing thus the disclosure of results or guidelines pertaining to the report to 2019.

The vice-president of the IC, Deland Leong Wai Man (picture, right), was less oblique in her comments, aiding clarification – although not revealing much – the nature of the updates provided within the report.

The deal with the co-ordination between the PMP and Macau’s Master Plan, which has already been submitted to the Urban Planning Committee (CPU) for evaluation, studies for height limits for both old and new urban zones of the city, including a list of developments that may have an impact on Macau’s heritage fabric, as well as the promotion of legislative work necessary to enshrine those principles in the law.