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The Good Earth

When is ‘idle’ land not idle? The majority of the 16 plots of land considered ‘idle’ by the gov’t until recently are linked to some of Macau’s most high profile names.

The land where integrated resort Studio City is sited and Angela Leong’s theme park are the two largest parcels considered idle land which the government has decided not to reclaim. The Executive revealed yesterday the 16 plots excluded from the recovery list: they are related to some of the most important and influential persons in Macau, and some of the plots are already being developed. Occupying an area of 140,798 m2, the land where Studio City is being built is the largest plot of land on the list. Initially, in 2001, this parcel of land was granted to a subsidiary of Hong Kong Group Lai Sun, named East Asia – Televisao por Satelite for the purpose of developing a cinema production hub and tourism resorts. However, in 2012, the East Asia company was renamed Studio City Development as the gaming operator Melco Crown acquired a 60 per cent share in the project, which is on course to be completed in the third quarter of this year. Angela Leong’s theme park, which totals 106, 015 m2, is also on the list. The land was first awarded to the company Macau Theme Park and Resort, which was represented by the legislator and Chui Sai Cheong – brother of the Chief Executive of Macau – plus Anthony Kwok Ho On. It is currently owned by Angela Leong, who stated earlier this month that she is awaiting government approval to start developing the theme park project, which will include hotels and family-friendly entertainment facilities. Stanley Ho From the list announced at least two plots are controlled by Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM), which was founded by Stanley Ho. While the contract signed for plot number three in ZAPE with the government was directly signed by the company, plot number 10, near the Jockey Club, was signed by Sociedade Hoteleira Macau-Taipa Resort in 1997. According to the Official Gazette, STDM was the major shareholder of the company in 1996. The name of Stanley Ho is further mentioned in another two plot contracts, which are located near Macau Jockey Club. The ‘King of Gambling’ is described as General Manager of Jockey Investment Company, which controls plots number 11 and 12. Initially, these parcels were awarded to Macau Jockey Club but in 1998 were handed to Jockey Investment Company, whose headquarters were located in Hotel Lisboa at that time. According to the dispatches of the Macau Official Gazette the connection of the ‘idle land’ with key figures of SJM Holdings also involves Ambrose So. In addition to signing the contracts involving STDM and Jockey Investment Company, the CEO of the company is also mentioned as representative of Sociedade de Fomento Predial Omar, which controls the land where the high-end residential project the Carat is being built. In terms of legislators linked to the 16 idle plots, Angela Leong and Chui Sai Cheong are not alone. Vitor Cheung Lup Kwan signed the contract in the name of Great China Company for a land parcel that occupies 38,363 m2 and which according to the Official Gazette was worth MOP21.6 million in 2004. Bus operator Transmac – Transportes Urbanos De Macau is also linked to two plots in Ilha Verde and Pac On which combined occupy 7,835 m2. The contracts were signed in 1988 and 1989 to develop bus terminals but the Ilha Verde project also included industrial areas. *with J.K. and S.L.

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