MB Jan | LRT - Just know that I know nothing | News to read in 2018. Or not

Regarding these two cases, any news could be considered . . . fiction. Anything could happen. Or nothing . . .

Another year has passed without the government revealing the Light Rail Transit (LRT) route on the Peninsula. 

It has been so long that no-one thinks that the matter has been closed. Which is why Lei Chan Tong, head of the Transport Infrastructure Office, said recently that the government will not give up the Peninsula sector of the LRT. Raimundo Rosário, Secretary for Transport and Public Works, added more recently that the LRT on the Peninsula would only start under the auspices of a new government (after 2019). 

No calendar, however, has been advanced, which means that we remain as a year ago. Or two. Or three . . . 

Well, exactly the same is not true: the two first LRT carriages arrived at Ka Ho Port in Coloane in October. Tests on the Taipa line are slated to start in the coming months. “I ask for everyone’s understanding,” pleaded Mr Rosário. “When we started, the commitment was to open the Taipa line in 2019 and we keep to this commitment: connecting with Barra and connecting with Seac Pai Van.”  

The Infrastructure Transport Office has also announced that the preliminary construction of Barra Station started in November. 

Smoking (or no smoking) ban  

After Macau’s Health Bureau announced a total ban on smoking in all casino public indoor areas (2015) last July, Macau lawmakers approved the continuation of smoking lounges near high-roller gaming lounges. But no gaming will be allowed in VIP smoking lounges. 

The newly amended Regime on Tobacco Prevention and Control came into effect on January 1. From now, and for one year, Macau casinos can install new smoking lounges in their VIP areas.  

In any case, these new smoking rooms can only be constructed by technical indications that remain unknown. “We hope we can publish [regulations concerning smoking lounges] as soon as possible,” said Tang Chi Ho, head of the city’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Office. 

And what will be the impact of this ban on VIP business? 

The first voice to be heard was that of Angela Leong of SJM Holdings Ltd., concerned about the so-called satellite casinos that cannot be set up to establish smoking rooms to government standards. ‘No exceptions,’ answered the ruler. 

Another important issue is the effective enforcement of the new law. That is why a member has already proposed that the Health Bureau place permanent inspectors in the casinos to ensure that the Regime on Tobacco Prevention and Control is respected. 

“There are a number of methods to circumvent the law to let customers smoke,” said deputy Leong Sun Iok (a former croupier), explaining that casinos “deceive customers by claiming that smoking is allowed in non-smoking areas, and even preventing their employees from telling customers that smoking is prohibited in those areas . . . Casinos violate the law at will, and workers can no longer tolerate it.” 

An uncomfortable birthday 

On July 9, 200 years will have passed since the birth of Vicente Nicolau de Mesquita, the Portuguese soldier who led his men to victory in the Baishaling Incident, the only battle between Portuguese and Chinese troops to occur in the last two centuries. 

According to several sources, Vicente Nicolau de Mesquita, born in Macau, and rising to Second Lieutenant, faced the Imperial troops mobilised on the Guangdong Province-Macau frontier, following the assassination of Governor Ferreira do Amaral (August 22, 1949). It is said that his army comprised 32 men versus about 2,000 on the Chinese side. 

Mesquita attacked the Chinese fort at Baishaling, guaranteeing Portuguese sovereignty in Macau, and considered thereafter as a national hero. 

The statue of Nicolau de Mesquita (deceased in 1880) was dismantled following the Cultural Revolution incidents of 1966 but the memory of this Macanese remains alive. 

Around the MSAR one can traverse Coronel Mesquita Road, Coronel Mesquita Street, Coronel Mesquita Alley, Coronel Mesquita Lane, Coronel Mesquita Yard, and the important Coronel Mesquita Avenue, while ‘Mei Fujiang Dami’ is a direct Chinese translation.  

“This ‘hero’ who murdered Chinese soldiers continues with the privilege of seeing his name used to designate a public route,” fumes Kuan Chon Hong, an expert on local toponymy. 

Will Macau mark the 200th anniversary of its birth?