The waiting game

Not many will admit it openly but many think it: when Ao Man Long was Secretary, things got done and moved fast in the transport and public works sector. Since his arrest in 2006 and when Lau Si Io took office, however, government decisions took longer; there was less communication and companies lost money.
Macau Institute of Engineers vice-president Addy Chan Kuai Son says the economy has evolved from the two Secretaries’ time — there were less engineers and architects and it was “easier” to control quality and decide whether they fulfilled government requirements. These days, when studying at university, no-one teaches the procedure for government approval, he says, an important process he believes should be more greatly emphasised.
Mr. Chan concedes that during Mr. Lau’s term projects slowed down. “It happened because all the officers, even the frontliners, spent more time checking details and were scared”, he says. They tried to rely more on the law to respond to construction professionals but Mr. Chan says that the legislation is now outdated.
Other factors contributed to the delay of project approval. For instance, during Mr. Ao’s time, says Mr. Chan, communications were easier. “If we saw problems with the DSSOPT, we could call a meeting with technicians to explain the comments in more detail but now DSSOPT says we need to write a letter to ask for this and sometimes they don’t accept; they expect designers, architects and professionals to understand everything”, he says.
Mr. Chan also expects a change for the better with Mr. Rosário. “He has some experience in public works and has worked in Portugal for a long time”, he says. “I have some expectations of the new Secretary; that he is able to reform the system, maybe implementing training programmes [in the universities] and updating legislation”. Overall, Mr. Chan believes that if the law can be clarified professionals related to construction will also be clearer about what to do.
The full story can be read in this month’s issue of Macau Business magazine, available at newsstands and online at