(Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

Crossing the River

It is with enthusiasm and a sense of gratitude that I embark on this journey at the helm of Project Asia Corp. Following in the footsteps of founder and publisher Paulo A. Azevedo, I have inherited a well-established and successful project. 

Editorial | By José Carlos Matias – Director

The group’s publications, which I will be overseeing, have been associated with excellence, quality journalism, editorial independence, and a strong focus on transparency and social responsibility, all of which are underpinned by an unwavering commitment to serving its readers and to the development of Macau. These have been the publications’ hallmarks, and I will do the utmost to uphold and deepen them. 

The group’s online multimedia portal, Macaubusiness.com, has become a leading one-stop information platform in the region. The Macau News Agency is at the heart of a round-the-clock drive to deliver accurate and independent journalism from the city to the world. Together with MNA editor in chief Nelson Moura and the team, I will strive to enhance the agency’s indispensable role. 

Macau Business Magazine, the group’s flagship publication, has emerged as a household name and indispensable reference over the past 16 years. It is a go-to resource for decision-makers, movers and shakers, and whoever has been keen on taking the pulse of the city’s economy and society. It has been enriched by its sister Chinese language publication, Business Intelligence (BI). That publication has allowed us to become a bilingual media group and forge deeper ties with the local community. Together with BI editor in chief and experienced top-notch journalist Mandy Kuok, I aim at taking this magazine to new heights. 

I embrace this exciting challenge against the backdrop of an unprecedented, critical juncture of both local and global proportions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. One cannot overestimate the need for across-the-board solidarity. All stakeholders must rise to the challenge, not through mere lofty words but through deeds. 

For Macau, the last couple of months have been telling. Any doubt about a conspicuous reliance on gaming and mass tourism is now banished. The local Government, namely Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, has shown leadership and a proactive and efficient approach to crisis management which, coupled with vast finances, cushioned the city against a much-feared hard landing. Nevertheless, what was rolled out, though bold, is not likely to be sufficient. As a result, citizens and businesses can expect to see additional measures of support, which should not continue in their neglect of Macau’s indispensable migrant work force. 

Festive lights are turned on at Senado Square in Macao, south China, Dec. 6, 2019. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

Not merely at a crossroads, this city is faced with an apparent paradox. The case for economic diversification has never been stronger, but there is no way to reboot the economy without seeing the casino industry come roaring back on the heels of a restored flow of visitors from mainland China. It is thus of paramount importance not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

What lies ahead is anyone’s guess, but it seems clear that the days when the sky was the limit are behind us and that the new normal, post-COVID-19, will not mean business as usual. 

Crises are conducive to soul searching and, for better or worse, can be accelerators of history. Opportunity knocks at Macau’s door, inviting the establishment of a more open and diversified business environment with new innovation engines. It’s about time we bid farewell to the deep-seated, inefficient red tape, rent-seeking practices and collusion that have hindered reforms and thwarted much-needed modernization in recent years. It’s all about going beyond lip service and walking the walk. Though these are indeed uncharted waters, as the Chinese saying goes, one must cross the river by feeling the stones… and never stop moving forward.