20 + 20 = the most influential (1-4)

MB December Special Report | 20 + 20 = the most influential

All About Macau

We hesitated between putting the All About Media news organization on the list or choosing the name of its editor-in-chief, Ng Sio Ngai, but how many will know the name of this experienced local journalist working on the platform since its inception (prior to 2010)?

In fact, here is an exception: a lot of All About Media news has marked the agenda for the past 10 years and is read with great interest in every Chinese newsroom. Even publications in Portuguese or English often report the work of this page online (https://aamacau.com/), famous for its liberal views on various social issues, which has had a monthly edition since May 2013.

But what distinguishes this publication, where human and financial means do not abound, with strengths to do several in-depth reports?

Professor Chang Su understands that “these alternative journalistic practices are all different from the traditional news production of the mainstream media in Macau.” At the same time, they “challenge the hegemonic narration manipulated by Macau’s mainstream media and criticise its performing self-censorship.”

The same is affirmed by Macau Business by journalist and researcher, José Carlos Matias, who highlights “the role played by All About Macau as a relatively more independent media outlet, with a strong online outreach.”

Chang Su tells Macau Business that although “the lack of funds and manpower is not good for the development of these alternative media (referring also to Macau Concealers, affiliated with the New Macau Association), it’s precisely the characteristics of the alternative media that is different from mainstream media.”

Ng Sio Ngai is the editor-in-chief since 2014, succeeding Ava Chan Lai Cheng, but in this project it is not the names that prevail, hence, with this or another editor-in-chief the editorial line is always the same.

“All About Macau”, Macau independent media, is how they describe themselves. In its webpage they ask for “public support” and “donations”: “The media has been maintained by fundraising and a small amount of advertising revenue, and it has been working hard so far.”

Alvin Chau

One of the peculiarities of gambling in Macau is the weight in billing (GGR) that gambling promoters have.

Among the various junkets, the Suncity Group (established in 2007) stands out.

In addition to running game rooms in South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia (10 in total), it is the 18 VIP Clubs in Macau that play a leading role in this company. The firm has been identified for several years as the share leader for Macau VIP business.

“Apart from a wide range of classy entertainment facilities, Suncity VIP Club is also distinguished in the provision of a full collection of travel services, which include hotel reservation, air and ferry ticket booking service, visa application, and chauffeur-drive and shuttle bus services,” says the company.

Another feature that distinguishes this junket operator: Suncity Group Holdings Ltd, that controls 28-per cent stake in the Russian casino resort, Tigre de Cristal, is a Hong Kong-listed company, that is not included in its local junket operations.

Alvin Chao is the boss of Suncity Group Holdings Ltd and the privately-held Macau junket operator, Suncity Group.

Despite not being in the public often, and measuring the times when he wants or needs to intervene, Alvin Chao is a popular media voice from Macau and above all from Hong Kong to talk about the companies he runs, the VIP market in Macau and gambling in general.

Protagonism in this field is not easy to manage, as the junket business is repeatedly associated with organized crime and facilitating illicit money flows.

This year, Alvin Chau has been targeted by Chinese state media in an online gambling report, a hard blow that was difficult to get around and which came at a time when it was speculated that Suncity could take a more prominent position in a possible seventh gambling license to be awarded to local investors.

In response, Alvin Chau promised that the group will refrain from conducting any gambling-related operation in other jurisdictions that is prohibited under Macau law, even if legally permitted outside the territory.

Angela Leong On-Kei

Angela Leong reconciles two characteristics that make her probably the most powerful woman in Macau: she is the administrator of the Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) and a deputy, elected by direct vote since 2005.

No other person in Macau has a seat in the Legislative Assembly and manages one of the six (sub) concessionaires of the local gambling – she is the de facto gaming industry representative in Macau. During the last discussion on union law in the Assembly, and after the accusations made by Deputy Pereira Coutinho to the casinos, it was Angela Leong who defended the honour of the industry.

Due to strong ties to Stanley Ho as his fourth wife, Angela Leong has an influence on over 20,000 workers in the gambling area alone. But she is also connected to STDM, which controls SJM as well as other influential companies in Macau (such as ferries to Hong Kong).

Angela Leong’s influence in Macau is evident – an example is the way she has solved the recent problems at the Macau Jockey Club to satisfaction against the opinion of many.

So, being as she is constantly at the centre of attention, and with so many responsibilities, it’s no wonder that the managing director and largest individual shareholder of casino company SJM Holdings manages their public interventions very carefully.

Leong is one of the most discreet Members in the House, and indeed her public speeches are rare.

When she does not speak publicly about the issues she directly manages, the MP shows a preference for two themes: social affairs (ranging from health to education, and the situation of the elderly) and tourism.

In short: Angela Leong is not on this list for the charisma of her public interventions, always discreet, but for what she represents. She speaks little, but when she does we cannot be indifferent, especially if the subject is gambling or the activity of companies where she has interests and which are very relevant locally.

Agnes Lam

Agnes Lam was already a respected voice in various political and social circles in Macau, especially from the moment she decided to leave her academic world (Associate Professor, Department of Communication, FSS, UM) to run for Legislative Assembly.

She lost twice (2009 and 2013) and managed the third with an excellent vote, becoming the first elected deputy without a backing force.

Agnes Lam adds another argument in her favor: she is the first Member to claim a kind of ‘third way’ between the two classic blocs of the local parliament. Although her ideas could put her close to the pro-democratic sector (she defends universal suffrage, for example), she has avoided positions that connote her with either side – which has allowed them to call it incoherent and calculating (she made the defense of minorities her flag, unless this minority is the resident workers…).

Without the political-social (or even financial) support that all the other Members, in one form or another, have, Agnes Lam has the big test two years from now when she makes her application.

Until then the Professor of the Faculty of Social Sciences (she keeps the link to the University) will continue to intervene, inside and outside the Legislative Assembly.

It is said in Macau that Agnes Lam is the first representative of a hitherto unrepresented social sector: the middle class, liberal in origin and with concerns that probably no other deputy justifies.

In a land where political power is not sufficiently scrutinized, voices like Agnes Lam’s are heard even more: speaking of what others do not speak and because, the Government thinks, there may be others thinking like her…