Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng pledged on Thursday that the government will strengthen its communication with Macau’s Roman-Catholic diocese and related groups before it launches another mapping show on the city’s religious and other landmarks in the future, but he was quick to add he believed that the mapping show held in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the façade of the St. Paul’s Ruins – which was presented for three consecutive nights from Sunday to Tuesday by the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) – was “no problem” and was liked by many residents and tourists.
Tam made the remarks while speaking to reporters after he got a winter flu shot at the Health Bureau (SSM).
‘Joyful & auspicious’
The special mapping show, titled “Glorious Splendour in Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China”, featured a story consisting of two parts: 1) United celebration by Macau residents; 2) Joyful and auspicious! Jointly celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China!
In addition to a statement by the diocese on the matter, the National Day celebratory mapping show on the façade of Macau’s landmark was also criticised by netizens on the Internet for its perceived “disharmony” between the show’s contents and the religious significance of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed monument.
In its statement, the diocese claimed that the show had “evoked reactions of discontent” among the Catholic flock.
Tam said that as this year marks the so-called “double celebration” – the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC and the 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to the motherland, the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) had decided to present the National Day celebratory mapping show on the façade of the St. Paul’s Ruins, with the aim of presenting the nation’s development achievements in conjunction with other regions on the mainland. Tam said that the show also aimed to present Macau’s prosperity and its cultural features to residents and tourists, creating a festive ambience.
Tam said that such shows are a kind of event that is widely liked by the public. Tam said that in addition to Macau, mapping shows held during festive periods on the Chinese mainland, in Europe and many other countries in the world are usually presented on landmark structures including churches, adding that the mapping shows feature a wide range of different themes.
Tam noted that the annual Macau Light Festival held by the government at iconic buildings and structures over the past few years also included a number of mapping shows on the façade of the St. Paul’s Ruins featuring various topics.
The Macau Light Festival has been held by the Macau Government Tourism Office at the end of every year since 2015.
Tam said that he respected the statement by the Macau diocese and its suggestions. Tam was quick to add he believed that the contents of the three-day mapping show on the St. Paul’s Ruins per se were “no problem”, and neither did the show target the diocese.
“I don’t think there was any problem with the contents of the mapping show,” Tam said, asking rhetorically, “Why was it a problem?” adding: “There have never been any problems since the Macau Light Festival started five years ago.”
Macau flower float in Beijing
Tam also noted that during the mass pageantry on National Day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the flower float representing Macau also contained a model of the St. Paul’s Ruins. The policy secretary urged the public to show understanding for the government’s “pure intent” to present the National Day celebratory mapping show on the façade of the St. Paul’s Ruins.
Tam said that the government would strengthen its communication with the Macau diocese, schools and other related associations before it launches another mapping show on the city’s landmark structures in the future, with the aim of improving mutual understanding and mutual “tolerance”.
In its “response to the mapping show projected onto the façade of the Ruins of St. Paul’s”, the diocese said that some faithful of the diocese had “expressed strong views over the matter.”
The statement noted that “the façade of the Ruins of St Paul’s is not only an iconic landmark of the city, it is also rich in historical and religious significance.
“Although the façade is no longer church property, it remains a symbol of the Catholic faith in Macau. “[The] faithful of different nationalities have deep feelings towards and a sense of identity with it.”
According to the Macau Post Daily, the statement added that “the show in question evoked reactions of discontent from quite a number of faithful of different nationalities, since it is deemed that the use of the historical monuments ought to correspond to its intended character.
“As the façade of St Paul’s represents the profound and long-standing Catholic heritage in Macau, the diocese wishes to propose that, should there be other “mapping shows” to be held in the future, their contents would do well to be related to the religious context of the said monument.
“The diocese is willing to engage in dialogue and to exchange ideas with relevant agencies, in the common endeavour to preserve and promote the precious historical monuments of Macau.”
The statement dated October 2 was signed by the chancellor of the diocese, Rev. Cyril Jerome Law, Jr.