Wong Sio Chak

The Secretary in his castle

This phobia of the Secretary for Security can be understood by what he perceives as possible dangers that Macau may face. 

From the Publisher’s Desk | Macau Business October 2019

Wong Sio Chak has never been a policeman despite overseeing the police force for many years since being appointed Deputy Director of the Judicial Police in 1998. These were difficult years, when open warfare raged between triads – namely, the 14K and Shui Fong or Wo On Lok. But from time to time hostilities erupted  between 14K’s own factions, and others starring Hong Kong’s then-largest triad, Sun Yee On. 

If he were a career policeman the Secretary would probably have adopted another way of acting. Being a technician turned politician, however, Wong prefers to play safe and surround Macau in a kind of fortress which only confirmed friends may enter. And once inside, just in case, authorities must watch everything and everyone . . . and – if in doubt – criminalise. 

Wong Sio Chak wants Macau as Washington was in the 2002 Steven Spielberg action thriller ‘Minority Report’ in which crimes were punished before being committed. This is the only way to understand the unhealthy saga of banning anyone from Hong Kong who wants to come to Macau just because that person is connoted with Democratic factions. Or are photographic reporters. Or priests, for that matter. 

Having barred the SAR attorney and former President of the Hong Kong Democratic Party Albert Ho, travelling here for a working meeting, the Secretary justified the action on the grounds that the lawyer posed a ‘danger to public safety’. Evidence of such danger was never provided. This is nonetheless ludicrous, since it is the Secretary who is insisting upon the adoption of legislation punishing rumourmongers with up to three years’ imprisonment. 

These days the police also have advanced scientific methods and can, it seems, anticipate crimes. As the Secretary explains: “No-one who was rejected entry had expressed the intent to commit crimes to security authorities”. 

Evidence is not presented; people are, I believe, subject to arbitrary decisions in spite of the law and the right not to be judged by guesswork, by mere speculation. With so many lawyers in Macau and a powerful association it is surprising that not a single voice has commented upon the matter. They are all probably still enjoying a much deserved Summer holiday. 

With Hong Kong under a state of siege, one understands the dread of Wong Sio Chak although the Secretary knows that he is ‘safe’ from similar situations. Macau’s DNA is very different to that of Hong Kong. And there are other reasons as argued in this edition by author Chan Hei Yin. 

But law enforcement is not about to take unnecessary risks; thus, they prohibit a ‘demonstration’ of two students as well as another protest, with predictably more people, but which the local police decided to block for politically motivated reasons rather than legal ones. In other words, what counts today is the authorities’ perception of what may be the reasons for a particular manifestation, regardless of what can be argued. 

Macau, the motherland’s beloved son, with no cases disturbing Beijing’s sleep other than a few scandals of corrupt politicians and others that never ended in the courtroom, does not want to take risks. And as such, closes doors and undertakes prohibitions as if we were living under a ‘state of siege’ that justifies the nullity of constitutionally protected rights. 

Fortunately, 2020 is just around the corner, and according to the International Monetary Fund Macau will head the list of richest places per capita on the planet. If we are rich, it is because all is well and all our sins are forgiven. 

After all, getting rich is glorious. 

Strange futurology 

I can’t understand how some analysts survive. In early September a firm predicted that our city’s gross gaming revenue would grow some four to seven per cent year-on-year. 

An optimistic forecast after two months of negative year-on-year growth. 

They could not be more wrong. Growth, albeit positive, stood at a meager 0.6 per cent year-on-year, reaching the MOP22 billion (US$2.7 billion) mark. 

Admittedly, it is not an exact science, but so many times the actual results prove to be light years from predictions – to the extent that we wonder why we still value certain estimates and analyses.