Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak addressing Monday’s Q&A session in the legislature’s hemicycle said there was a need for the government to set up a bureau-level entity for civil protection and emergency response coordination.
Wong made the remarks when answering questions from several lawmakers, on the first day of the two-day Q&A session about his portfolio’s policy guidelines for next year.
In the public administration’s institutional hierarchy, a bureau is the top-ranked administrative unit under any of the government’s five policy secretariats.
Wong said during a special press conference in early September that the government planned to set up a new entity tentatively called the Civil Protection and Contingency Coordination Bureau, with the aim of enabling better coordination and mobilisation of disaster relief resources.
The special press conference hosted by Chief Executive Chui Sai On in early September was about what the government had done to bring the city back to normalcy after it had been battered by Super Typhoon Hato.
The deadly typhoon pummelled Macau on August 23, causing massive flooding, killing 10, injuring 244 and resulting in damage officially estimated at over 11 billion patacas. Hato left the city in deep shock.
Wong said at the time that the proposed bureau would be tasked with overseeing the Civil Protection Operations Centre, which currently is run by the Unitary Police Service (SPU). He also said the setting-up of the proposed bureau would require a new piece of legislation.
The centre is located at the Immigration Department in Pac On in Taipa.
According to the Macau Post Daily several lawmakers questioned whether the proposed setting-up of the bureau would contradict the government’s ongoing aim of streamlining its public administration.
Wong replied that the government’s proposal to set up the Civil Protection and Contingency Coordination Bureau resulted from the government’s review of its existing mechanism to tackle disasters.
Wong also said that the proposal was one of a number of various suggestions which have been proposed by a post-Hato delegation of experts from the National Commission for Disaster Reduction. He underlined that it was Chief Executive Chui Sai On who decided to set up the Civil Protection and Contingency Coordination Bureau.
Wong noted that the Civil Protection Operations Centre is only activated when the No. 8 typhoon warning signal is hoisted. He admitted that the operation of the centre, which consists of representatives from 27 government entities and private organisations, is not properly coordinated.
The lawmakers also questioned whether a bureau-level entity would be able to coordinate various other government entities for civil protection and emergency response.
Wong replied that the proposed bureau would be able to coordinate the various entities under the civil protection structure as long as a new law regulating the operation of the new bureau is drafted, passed by the legislature and then implemented in the future.
Wong noted that a bureau is the government’s top-ranked administrative unit to carry out tasks and duties. He pointed out that the city’s civil protection work is currently carried out by a department-level entity under the Unitary Police Service.
Wong said that in addition to tackling natural disasters, the city’s civil protection work also includes tackling major accidents and public health incidents as well as crowd control and anti-terrorism measures.
Since an amendment bill to the Security Framework Law and the law regulating the operations of the Unitary Police Service came into force in May, the Unitary Police Service has been tasked with providing civil protection. Previously, civil protection was handled by the Security Forces Coordination Office, which has been abolished.