A total of 17 groups protested on Sunday with the aim of putting pressure on the public Macau Foundation (FM) to withdraw its controversial decision to donate 100 million yuan (123 million patacas) to Jinan University in Guangzhou.
The 17 grassroots groups comprised two ad-hoc alliances. A 15-group alliance included Love Macau People Power, New Macau Gaming Workers’ Rights Union and Macau Gaming Industry Frontline Workers (FMG). The other alliance was formed by the long-established New Macau Association (NMA) and relatively new Macau Youth Dynamics.
The two ad-hoc alliances separately began their protests from Vasco da Gama Garden, with the 15-group alliance headed to government headquarters where the groups’ representatives handed their petitions addressed to chief executive Fernando Chui Sai On to an official, while the second headed towards the legislative assembly (AL).
After handing in their petition outside government headquarters, Love Macau President Cloee Chao Sao Fong, the spokeswoman for the alliance, said the main appeal of their joint protests was to press the foundation to withdraw the 100 million yuan donation to Jinan University. They also demanded that the government should submit details of planned expenditure which would cost the public coffers 50 million patacas or more to the legislature for lawmakers to review.
Chao said that about 1,500 people took part in the protest by their 15-group alliance which ended without incident outside government headquarters.
Meanwhile, the second alliance, which began their protest half an hour after the first one had set off, announced the end of their protest at Nam Van Lake Nautical Centre.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the protest, NMA President Scott Chiang Meng Hin said the number of protestors, which they said was about 3,300, showed the government that Macau residents will no longer stand for a system which allows “pork barrels” by people or groups that are close to the members of the foundation’s three councils. The NMA protesters demanded Chui’s resignation for alleged conflict of interest in granting the donation.
Right after the protest, Public Security Police (PSP) spokesman Lei Tak Fai said during an open-air press conference in Rua Comendador Kou Ho Neng that the two protests drew about 1,100 demonstrators and that 200 police officers were deployed to maintain order.
The Macau Foundation was set up by the government in 2001. It is mainly funded by 1.6 per cent of the gross revenues of Macau’s casinos.
The Macau Foundation and Chui have repeatedly said the process for the donation to the university’s planned media studies centre and two Hong Kong-Macau student halls on the university’s new campus in Guangzhou’s Panyu district was legal and reasonable, but vowed to improve communication with the public. Chui on Wednesday apologised for “miscommunication” over the donation issue.
Chui is a deputy chairman of the university’s board of directors and the chairman of the foundation’s Council of Trustees.
About 20,000 locals are reported to have graduated from Jinan University over the past few decades including half of Macau’s medical staff. Several local Jinan University alumni associations came out in support of the donation last week.
(Macau News / The Macau Post Daily)