A 100 million yuan donation by the public Macau Foundation (FM) to Jinan University in Guangzhou, from which thousands of local students have graduated, has caused a mixed reaction here.
While some have supported the donation as a patriotic gesture, others have rejected it due to its perceived conflict of interest.
For instance, the grassroots New Macau Association (NMA) is collecting signatures urging Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On to quit over the donation to the Guangzhou-based university. The activists also demand that the government cancel the donation.
NMA President Scott Chiang Ming Hin and Vice-President Jason Chao Teng Hei jointly announced details of their signature campaign which was launched over the weekend and will end today, in Areia Preta Park on Sunday. Chao said his group’s action might be extended if the government failed to meet its demands.
According to a report by the China News Service (CNS) on Wednesday, the Macau government will donate 100 million yuan (123 million patacas) to Jinan University through the Macau Foundation. It was through the CNS report that the public in Macau became aware ofthe donation.
The foundation said in a statement on Friday that the donation will be made over two years, giving 50 million yuan each year. The donation will be used for the construction of a media studies centre and two Hong Kong-Macau student halls on the university’s new campus in Guangzhou’s Panyu district.
According to the FM statement, the media studies centre will cover a construction area of 12,000 square metres, with a budget of 150 million yuan, while the two student halls will cover a total construction area of 39,600 square metres with a budget of 142 million yuan.
Pointing to the fact that Chui has been the vice-chairman of the university’s board since 2010, the grassroots activists on Friday accused Chui of “abusing” his positions, as Macau’s chief executive and president of the Macau Foundation’s Council of Trustees, to funnel public money from Macau to Jinan University in the guise of a donation.
The main income of the Macau Foundation, which was set up by the government in 2001, comes from 1.6 per cent of local casinos’ gross receipts.
In a statement released on Saturday the Government Spokesperson’s Office claimed that the donation is for funding Jinan University’s two new dormitories for Hong Kong and Macau students that “would benefit Macau students”, denying that the donation involved the transfer of benefits.
“The nature of the Board is not comparable to the ordinary boards of commercial and business unites… The Chief Executive has served as a vice chairman of the Board as invited. He does not receive any payment or benefits [from the position]. There is thus no benefit transfer,” the Office wrote.
Saying it had noticed “false rumors and allegations” against the government’s donation to the university, the Spokesperson’s Office indicated that the donation is a proper contribution for the SAR Government to attribute to China’s development and education following Beijing’s great support of the Special Administrative Region.
“Macao Foundation’s subsidies to the campus construction of Jinan University would not affect the SAR Government’s injection into local tertiary education”, the statement reads, adding that the Foundation operates a supervision scheme overseeing the university’s use of the donation.
(Macau News / The Macau Post Daily/ Business Daily)