The Macau Jiangmen Communal Society said in a statement Monday night that it has decided to stop paying for the Sin Fong Garden reconstruction project due to the adverse impact of Macao’s economic slowdown on the civic group in recent years and the COVID-19 epidemic.
The statement also said that during a meeting last month, representatives of the society proposed two solutions to the flat owners’ representatives so that the reconstruction project could continue without its initially promised payment, adding that the flat owners’ representatives who attended the meeting rejected both solutions.
According to the statement, the first proposed solution is that the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society and the flat owners would cooperate in getting financing for the reconstruction project, including obtaining additional bank loans, so that the project could continue, in which case the interest of the loans would be paid by the civic group.
According to the statement, the second proposed solution is that the group would give the flat owners a one-off payment of eight million patacas, in which case the outstanding costs for the project would have to be financed by the flat owners themselves.
The condominium owners’ management committee of the Sin Fong Garden high-rise, the reconstruction of which got off the ground in October 2018, convened a special meeting for the flat owners on Sunday, saying that the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society which had promised to “donate” MOP 100 million for the reconstruction project told it last month that it would stop paying for the project. The management committee also said it has been told that businessman-cum-philanthropist Vu Shun Him (also known as António Ferreira) in January had taken back MOP 50 million that he had promised in advance to help rebuild the high-rise.
Wong Man Sang, the chairman of the Sin Fong Garden condominium owners’ management committee, told reporters on the sidelines of Sunday’s special meeting that the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society had so far paid just MOP 5.12 million for the reconstruction. Wong said that almost all of the MOP 5.12 million and the MOP 70 million financed by the flat owners had already been spent on the reconstruction, adding that the project would have to be suspended soon if no more money is put into the project.
Following its demolition, Sin Fong Garden is being rebuilt in line with its original floor plan on the same site – 30 storeys, 144 flats, 48 car parking spaces and a shop on the ground floor.
The original building was mothballed in late 2012 after several of its main pillars burst, forcing the government to evacuate all its residents. The government officially declared that the building was “uninhabitable” and the evacuees were confronted with the challenge of raising enough money to cover the reconstruction costs. In 2013, the government published a report by the University of Hong Kong, which concluded that several main pillars on the second floor burst due to “poor construction material”.
In April 2014, the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society announced that it would advance 60 per cent of the building’s reconstruction cost – equivalent to about MOP 100 million, while Vu said at that time he would advance MOP 50 million to help rebuild the high-rise. Therefore, the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society hosted a “donation” signing ceremony in February 2018 for an agreement according to which it would “donate” MOP 100 million for the reconstruction project.