[Updated with more detailed information on non-residents employed as private security]
Local private security companies have revealed to Macau News Agency (MNA) that security authorities in Macau have indicated to gaming and hotel companies in the city that they should avoid hiring non-Chinese security staff.
According to the companies – which preferred to not be named – casino companies were asked to avoid hiring non-resident workers, with security companies usually employing several Filipino, Nepalese and Pakistani nationals as security professionals.
“We just got an informal notice from a client that the government asked them to hire more Chinese security for casinos. In fact, this has been done without any official notice from the government or from the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ),” the head of a local security firm told MNA.
According to the security firm manager, who preferred not to be named to avoid any possible problems with the local government, SAR authorities referred specifically that local residents and mainland China security staff should be prioritized.
“Most Chinese or Macau residents don’t have a high standard of English and focus more in Cantonese and Mandarin. Nowadays, Macau is an international entertainment and gaming city. Tourists come from all around the world, they are not just limited to China,” the same source indicated.
Tourism authorities recently revealed that Macau received more than 39.4 million visitors in 2019, with almost 92 per cent hailing from Greater China.
However, while some representatives of the sector saw the decisions as being “political”, others considered it as a “practical” decision linked to concerns that since the majority of local visitors hailed from Mainland China, having mainly Chinese and local security personnel would be more practical in terms of communication instead of mainly English-speaking security guards.
The Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC) informed MNA that about 10,119 security guards were employed in Macau as of June 2019 – the most update information it held – but without being able to provide the exact numbers by nationality.
Members of the security sector believe though that about half of the private security employed in the gaming sector was believed to be comprised of non-residents – including Mainland Chinese – with the other half being Macau residents.
According to the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) as of November 2019, there were 7,911 foreign employees employed in security services in the ‘Real Estate and Business Services Industry’ category.
Nepalese security guards, per example, are frequently employed in Macau and Asia due to the reputation of the quality of their military background and training, however, quotas for local residents already make it more difficult for local security companies to hire non-resident personnel.
Of all 4,426 Nepalese residents working in Macau by the end of November 2019, about 70 per cent were employed in the employment category covering private security services.
“Market demand has been huge in the past several years […] but it’s quite difficult to hire local people because many already work in casinos in higher-paying positions,” the head of one security company told MNA.
“We believe the gaming operators have all generally been informed unofficially [of these directions] by government departments but they will never issue an official notification”
MNA inquired human resources personnel in gaming operators, who confirmed directions have been made to prioritize the hiring of Chinese or Macau residents as security.
Profession requirements ingrained in the 4/2007 Private Security Law do not include the nationality of the applicants, with the current Labour Law enforced in 2008 specifying no worker or job seeker may be unjustifiably deprived of a job opportunity due to its nationality, aside from job areas exclusive for local residents, such as casino dealers or professional drivers.
When inquired about this issue, the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) stated that local laws do not stipulate which nationalities employers are allowed to employ.
‘Therefore, as long as the employer applies to DSAL and obtains employment permits for foreign employees in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Employment of Foreign Employees Act, employers can choose to come people from different regions or countries to become their employees,’ the department told MNA.
The department also underlined that as in accordance with national policy requirements, if an employer chooses a person from Mainland China to become an employee, DSAL will clearly stipulate that Mainland employees are not allowed to enter casino areas when granting an employment permit to that foreign employee.
MNA also contacted the Public Security Police Force – which is in charge of licensing private security personnel – with the department indicating it regulated the sector in accordance with legislation enforced in 2007 but that it did not control or select the nationality of approved security guards.
Last year, due to lack of available human resources the CPSP even indicated to have started hiring private security guards in three police stations in the Macau Peninsula and others in Taipa and Coloane, however, this initiative – considered only a trial – was later discontinued.