Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak vowed on Tuesday to strengthen police inspections and crime-prevention measures targeting the city’s hotels and casinos to ensure that the local gaming and tourism industries can develop in a healthy, stable and orderly manner.
Wong, a public prosecutor by profession, also said that “equality before the law is a fundamental concept when the police enforce the law”.
The policy secretary, who previously headed the Judiciary Police (PJ) made the remarks after his first inspection of the Fire Services’ (CB) Central Fire Station in Estrada de Coelho do Amaral since becoming one of the government’s five policy secretaries on December 20.
Asked by reporters about the Judiciary Police (PJ) busting the city’s biggest prostitution ring since the 1999 handover, Wong said that the Public Security Police and Judiciary Police have been constantly combating such crime.
“The case is not special …I hope the public do not read too much into it. I am just carrying on where [former] secretary for security Cheong [Kuoc Va] left off in the ongoing fight against crime,” Wong said.
According a press conference on Sunday, police arrested six hotel staff – including a senior executive – and took in for questioning 96 suspected sex workers from the mainland and Vietnam on Saturday.
The senior executive has meanwhile been identified as Alan Ho Yau Lun of Hotel Lisboa. The national news agency Xinhua released a photo of Ho in handcuffs on Monday when he was escorted by police officers to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) for questioning. The suspect is a nephew of Macau gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung Sun.
The police also said that they found a name list of 2,400 suspected sex workers and an estimated 400 million patacas in illicit gains by the sex ring which allegedly also involved managers of the hotel’s lobby and security department.
Wong told reporters on Tuesday that the ring was busted after the police had collected enough intelligence, adding that the time was ripe when asked as to why the police only now busted the ring despite the fact that scores of sex workers were known to have been touting for clients in the Hotel Lisboa corridors for many years.
Wong also said that the police often bust prostitution rings.
Asked by reporters whether the police would be under pressure as the main suspect is a scion of one of the city’s most influential business clans, Wong said that the police only consider the law when clamping down on crime.
Ho, 68, was awarded the government’s Tourism Merit Medal in 2011.
“Equality before the law is a fundamental concept to be adhered to when the police enforce the law… it is also the pre-condition for successful law enforcement,” Wong said.
The PJ said during Sunday’s press conference that Ho hired a mainland woman, surnamed Wang, in 2013 as a senior manager of the hotel where she was allegedly in charge of assigning rooms to sex workers, after they paid a 150,000 yuan “entrance fee” so that they could solicit clients in the hotel.
Wong also said that the Saturday’s case should not be considered “the first wave” of operations by the police since he took up his current post.
“Actually, many operations have been carried out …there will be more operations coming,” he said, adding that the aim of the anti-crime sweeps was to ensure that the local gaming and tourism industries can develop in a stable, healthy and orderly manner. He said this was the police’s top priority.
“Gaming and tourism businesses are the leading industries in the city…we hope the gaming operators will co-operate with the police [in preventing and combating crime],” he said, adding he would not exclude the possibility that prostitution rings are operating in other local hotels.
“We will strengthen our inspection of hotels …particularly casino [hotels]. We also hope the city’s hotels will continue to co-operate with us in preventing and combating crime,” Wong said, adding that the police would continue to study organised crime trends.
The security chief also said that prostitution, gambling and drugs were “of the same family. He pointed out that among the three, gambling is the only legal industry in Macau.“Since it’s legal, we have to make sure that it is developing in a stable, orderly and healthy way,” Wong said.
According to the Macau Penal Code, it is illegal for anyone to live off the earnings of a prostitute. (macaupost/macaunews)