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 (US$12.57 million) for the reconstruction project told the committee last month that it would stop paying for the project.
The management committee also said it been told that businessman-cum-philanthropist Vu Shun Him (also known as António Ferreira) had taken back MOP 50 million that he had promised to advance to help rebuild the high-rise in January.
Wong Man Sang, the chairman of the Sin Fong Garden condominium owners’ management committee, spoke to reporters on the sidelines of Sunday’s flat owners’ special meeting, which took place at the Patane Residents School, which is located near the ill-fated Sin Fong Garden reconstruction project in Rua da Ribeira do Patane.
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”.
Wong said on Sunday that the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society first announced in 2014 that it would donate MOP 100 million to the reconstruction of Sin Fong Garden, and a donation signing ceremony was held in February 2018.
Wong said that the main structure of the building was initially slated to be completed at the end of this year and the flat owners were expected to be able to move back into their flats by September next year. Wong said that the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society however told the condominium owners’ management committee last month that it would stop paying the MOP 100 million that it had promised in 2014. Wong also said that afterwards the management committee was told that Vu had already taken back MOP 50 million kept in trust by Macau Social Enterprise Company Limited in January.
Wong said that representatives of the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society told representatives of the condominium owners’ management committee its decision to stop the payment during a meeting on 8 June, claiming that the society right now “did not have the money” to continue the payment.
Wong said 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.
‘A disaster rather than a crisis’
Wong said that the incident was “a disaster rather than a crisis”, adding that the possible halt of the reconstruction would be even worse than the hypothetical scenario in which the reconstruction had never got off the ground.
The Macau Jiangmen Communal Society said in 2018 that the reconstruction cost was estimated at about MOP 210 million.
During Sunday’s special meeting, members of the Sin Fong Garden condominium owners’ management committee urged the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society and Vu to “fulfil their promises so as to ensure that the reconstruction project will be completed as scheduled”.
Chan Pou Sam, a standing vice-president of the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society, told government-owned broadcaster TDM that his association would respond “within a short period of time” to Sunday’s shock announcement by the management committee.
Legislator-cum-developer Mak Soi Kun is a vice-chairman of the society. Jiangmen is a city in Guangdong province some 64 kilometres north of Macao. Thousands of Macao residents are immigrants from Jiangmen.
Meanwhile, Vu told TDM on Sunday that Macau Social Enterprise Company Limited, which kept the MOP 50 million in trust, told him several months ago that the flat owners had come up with enough money for the reconstruction project so that they would no longer need his help. Vu insisted that the MOP 50 million was merely an advance payment which aimed to help the flat owners launch the reconstruction project. Vu said that the unit owners had obtained both a number of bank loans and the MOP 100 million donated by the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society for the project, and he needed money due to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, adding that therefore several months ago he decided to take back the MOP 50 million he had promised to advance.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTOS © The Macau Post Daily/Maria Cheang Ut Meng