Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário admitted Thursday that the number of personnel in the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG) is insufficient, adding that the government found it difficult to recruit more staff for the weather station with the aim of improving its forecasting.
Rosario attended a plenum in the legislature’s hemicycle which discussed a debate motion presented by directly-elected non-establishment lawmaker Sulu Sou Ka Hou on the issue.
The legislature passed Sou’s debate motion in November last year, which questioned whether the government was willing to thoroughly reform the operations of the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau, namely concerning the way the bureau informs the public about the possible threats of typhoons and its internal management.
In his debate motion, Sou noted a hard-hitting report released in October last year by the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) on the findings of an investigation into the weather bureau over its widely criticised typhoon forecasting process and internal management.
The report released by the anti-graft body-cum-ombudsman on October 19 last year showed that the weather bureau, when forecasting typhoons and hoisting typhoon warning signals, simply relied on the personal judgement and decisions of the weather bureau’s then director Fong Soi Kun – who resigned the day after deadly Super Typhoon Hato pummelled Macau on August 23 last year. Fong has meanwhile retired.
In his debate motion, Sou also noted the bureau’s controversial handling of warning signals for Typhoon Nida which hit Macau in August 2016. Sou also said that the CCAC report reflected the weather bureau’s various long-standing “malpractices” affecting its internal management.
During the plenum, Sou also noted alleged superstitious practices in the office of the weather bureau’s then vice-director Florence Leong Ka Cheng.
According to Sou, Leong is alleged to have kept a preserved foetus in her office.
Rosario replied that his office has been receiving many anonymous letters of complaint concerning alleged malpractices by public servants and that he has also heard many rumours about alleged wrongdoings by public servants.
Rosario said that if he chose to get involved in handling those complaints, he wouldn’t have enough time to carry out his own tasks and duties.
The policy secretary said that if those who file complaints against alleged malpractices by public servants have concrete evidence, they should submit their complaints to the relevant government entities to follow-up them up.
Rosario also said that the weather bureau has been facing difficulties in recruiting more staff members, as there is a lack of meteorological professionals in Macau. He also said that it was difficult to convince senior staff members in the bureau to take up leadership positions as the salaries of senior officials and leadership positions are rather similar.
During the plenary session, SMG Acting Director Leong Weng Kun said that his bureau planned to widen the recruitment requirements for weather forecasters, such as by hiring applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in physics, mathematics or information technology. Leong said that applicants holding such degrees could become weather forecasters after in-house training by the bureau.
Currently, according to Leong, only applicants with a bachelor’s degree in meteorology can be hired to work for the bureau as weather forecasters.