Chief executive candidate Ho Iat Seng said on Tuesday there was a need to reopen the ferry route between Zhuhai’s Wanzai Port and Macau’s Inner Harbour Ferry Terminal, with the aim of relieving the pressure on various border checkpoints and diverting the flow of visitors.
The shipping company operating at the Inner Harbour Ferry Terminal at that time announced in 2016 that all routes from the terminal to Wanzai had ceased following the cancelling of the ferry service.
Ho attended a Q&A session with members representing the labour, social service and religious sector — known as the third sector — on the Chief Executive Election Committee. The 400-member committee has 115 members from the third sector. Tuesday’s session at Pak Wai Activity Centre in Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida was attended by 55 electors from the sector.
The chief executive election takes place on Sunday morning.
A total of 13 participants asked Ho questions during the meeting on issues such as human resources, the tourism industry, gaming concessions, urban renewal, the divorce rate, and religion.
When answering a question from election committee member Tong Kin San about a scheme to divert visitors from various border checkpoints, Ho pointed out there was a need to reopen the route between Wanzai Port and the Macau Inner Harbour Ferry Terminal as soon as possible and also to add a new route from Wanzai to Taipa.
Ho noted that according to information from the mainland, the new facilities in Wanzai will be completed in June next year, adding he believed the ferry route could help relieve the pressure on the Barrier Gate and the future Qingmao Macau-Gongbei pedestrian border crossing.
Protecting religious freedom
Shi Jie Sheng, a Buddhist from the religious sector, said he hoped Ho would attach importance to Buddhism and the religious sector, adding that religion was a kind of emotional support. Ho agreed, adding: “No matter which religion you believe…Catholicism, Buddhism or Taoism…I believe every chief executive will support the freedom of religion, and we must protect religious rights.”
Meanwhile, Ho and his campaign team members visited the Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in Taipa and Coloane Karting Track on Tuesday morning to familiarise themselves with local sports facilities, and meet track-and-field athletes.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the visit to the stadium, Ho said the aim of Macau’s sports development was not merely to cultivate young people to join and win competitions, but the most important thing was to encourage all residents to exercise, adding: “The more we invest in the sports sector, the less we need to spend on the public health care sector. I know many senior citizens do exercise regularly, which can help reduce their health problems.”
Responding to a media question about the controversial issue of the Macau Football Association (MFA) cancelling the team’s trip to Sri Lanka for the second leg of the FIFA World Cup 2022 Asia, Ho said: “The decision might have hurt the football team players; however, there was a need to ensure our athletes’ safety as human life is not compensable. It’s hard to strike a balance on such matter. The football association should learn from this experience and strengthen communication with the players in the future.”
The association announced in June that the Macau national team would not travel to Sri Lanka for the second match due to concerns over the security of the players because of this year’s Easter terrorist attacks in the country. Despite several pleas by most players to allow the match to take place and even threats to refuse to represent the team in future call-ups, the MFA maintained its position.
‘No white terror’
When asked about the seven people taken in for questioning at a police station on Monday night for “acting suspiciously” in the city’s main square, Largo do Senado, Ho said that he was not there that night so he wasn’t aware of the situation, adding he believed the police have their own judgment and have the ability to handle the matter well.
An unidentified individual planned last week to hold an assembly against alleged police violence in Hong Kong on Monday night in Largo do Senado. The Public Security Police (PSP) then announced that they had decided not to allow the assembly and said they had made the decision in line with the local Assembly and Demonstration Law, as the planned assembly “aimed to express support for the ongoing illegal acts by violent protestors” in the neighbouring special administrative region.
In response to some opinions describing the local police’s action on Monday night as something like “white terror”. Ho underlined that the police only “invited” some people to undergo further questioning at a police station but that none of them was arrested, adding “That’s not white terror”.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Ho also said that he won’t comment on the current situation in Hong Kong.
The term “white terror” refers to allegedly coordinated violence against political enemies.