The government announced on Wednesday that Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On has decided to punish the former director of the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG), Fong Soi, Kun, by suspending the payment of his pension for four years for his failure to fulfil his duties properly over the hoisting of storm warning signals when Super Typhoon Hato pummelled Macau last year.
According to a statement from the Government Spokesperson’s Office (GPV), disciplinary procedures launched by the government against Fong and the bureau’s former vice-director, Florence Leong Ka Cheng, for their alleged failure to fulfil their duties properly over the handling of Hato’s warning signals have recently been completed. The outcome of the disciplinary procedures determined that the duo should be held accountable, the statement said.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Leong submitted her resignation as the bureau’s vice-director in February, effective from March 1, when she returned to her original post as a senior public servant at the weather station, which has a director and a vice-director.
The statement said that Chui has therefore decided to “dismiss” Fong and suspend Leong for 130 days. As Fong has already retired, Fong’s “dismissal” leads to the suspension of his pension payment for four years based on the Macau Public Administration Staff Statute.
According to the statute promulgated in the late 1980s, “dismissal” is the heaviest punishment against public servants who have violated disciplinary rules, followed by “forced retirement”, suspension, imposition of fines and issuing of warning letters.
According to Article 306 of the statue, if the respective public servant has already retired when he or she is dismissed, such punishment leads to the suspension of his or her pension payment for four years.
During a special press conference on Wednesday to brief reporters about the city’s rules on the retirement of and disciplinary procedures against public servants, Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau (SAFP) Acting Director Chou Kam Chon said that the four-year suspension of Fong’s pension payment is the heaviest punishment that can be imposed on him, based on the Macau Public Administration Staff Statute.
During the press conference, Ermelinda Maria da Conceição Xavier, the acting president of the administrative committee of the Pension Fund (FP), said that the suspension of Fong’s pension payment would involve around four million patacas based on preliminary estimates.
Chou said that Fong could appeal Chui’s decision to “dismiss” him.
An announcement published in the Official Gazette (BO) late last month stated that Fong would be paid a monthly pension of 865 salary points (equivalent to 73,525 patacas) after he had applied to retire.
The amount of one salary point for a public servant’s salary or pension increased to 85 patacas – from 83 patacas last year – starting from January this year.
The announcement was approved by Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan on March 12.
According to the announcement, after combining other benefits based on the length time he worked as a public servant, Fong will be paid up to 79,475 patacas per month.
The day after Hato pummelled Macau on August 23 and killed 10, Chui accepted Fong’s abrupt resignation over the latter’s widely criticised handling of Hato’s warning signals. Fong submitted his resignation for “personal reasons”. Fong also applied to retire when he handed Chui his resignation.
Hato was Macau’s most severe typhoon in over six decades.
The weather bureau said in a statement in January that Fong retired on November 27, three months after he had applied to retire.
In November, Chui initiated disciplinary procedures against Fong and Leong for their alleged failure to fulfil their duties properly over the hoisting of typhoon warning signals when Hato hit Macau, after a special commission tasked with probing whether any government entities or officials were at fault in their response to Hato submitted its investigative report to Chui.
During the period between Fong’s resignation as the bureau’s director and his retirement in late November, he worked for the weather station as a senior public servant.