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Old September 8th, 2012, 02:38 PM   #301
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CCAC proposes change to LRT’s NAPE route
07/09/2012 08:03:00
Macau Daily Times

The Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) concluded its report on the investigation of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system’s NAPE segment with a negative reaction to the Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT). It proposes to change the route planned for the Rua de Londres for the Avenida Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. CCAC also strongly criticizes GIT for errors in technical matters as well as in the administration of the LRT.

Representatives from the association, Community Development Macau, had requested intervention from CCAC in May last year as they suspected illegalities and irregularities in the LRT system process. The association presented complaints to GIT insisting that the route, which will pass London Street and Porto Street, should be changed. They not only complained about the height of the railway, which would block views and sunlight, as well as presenting a potential danger in the case of a fire or emergency situation. The representatives also accused GIT of not consulting residents in the design and routing. A neighborhood leader said the reason behind the authority’s tough stance was the lucrative land deals approved by Ao Man Long. GIT had proposed cutting the height of the elevated railway from 15.5 meters to 13.6 meters, or below the fourth floor of residential level, but in spite of residents’ opposition, it announced the final design of the Light Rapid Transit system’s NAPE segment, which will pass London Street and Porto Street in June.

CCAC proposed the change of the Rua de Londres route to the Avenida Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, substituting the first with footpaths and traffic lanes (cancelling the whole area which is reserved for parking), serving thus as an access to the “Dynasty Plaza” which will be the main way to link the Eastern and Western zones in the future. The commission mentions some advantages that the change would bring, such as “a more equilibrated use of the area, a better protection of the population’s rights and interests and of the impact on the landscape.”

Should GIT stick to its plan, CCAC demands it must give “explanations about the technical analyses to the public.” GIT must “disclose supporting arguments in the security question and stop using abstract explanation(s) and vague words.” CCAC further recommends the creation of a specialist technical group by the Chief Executive in order to achieve a better centralization of the construction works, as it concludes that “due to the lack of severity in the preparation work, we expect the need of technical readjustment in view of a significant number of problems that could emerge in the course of the construction works.”
Although CCAC admits, “there are no specific rules in the legislation of Macau concerning transportation on rails”, in its report the commission concluded that, “regarding the decisions on the LRT route, the treatment and adopted procedures by the competent services have been inadequate and not convincing for the public, as there was no complete divulgation of the data and the technical criteria.” As to the failures in the management process, CCAC states “there were questions which should have been solved during the conception phase and not just once the decisions had already been made.”

What has been the origin of the conception that led to the insistence on the Rua de Londres route? - CCAC

The community association had also complained about the “mainstream opinion”, cited by GIT as a base for the decision to choose London Street. Regarding this question, CCAC came to the conclusion that GIT “applied not (very) convincing rules and procedures in the consultation phase”, meaning there “has not been much representation of the hired firms or the addresses of the inquiry.” The consultation on the structure and route of the LRT “has not been conducted according to the requirements of a modern public administration, as no explanation was given to the public about the technical or security related questions.” As to the newly chosen route of the Rua de Londres instead of the originally proposed Av. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, “there have been no convincing fundaments for that decision and there is no scientific or technical reason for such a procedure”, reads the report. “If the change of the route constituted the result of a technical weighing up, the first route should have been declared as deficient” holds the commission. “If the initial proposal was considered a satisfactory solution, the proposal to move to Rua de Londres is considered as inadequate.” The report continues: “If both proposals can be considered to be realistic, the important question is if both meet the required technical and security conditions. Subsequently, the proposal has to be chosen which meets the following conditions in the best way: Reduced cost, elevated security standard, less influence on rights and interests of the residents, and an adequate future development of Macau in accordance with the pre-defined requirements of the urban development plan.”

According to CCAC’s investigation there are only “11 differences” between both possible sections. Thus “the questions is: What has been the origin of the conception that led to the insistence on the Rua de Londres route?” The commission not only criticized GIT for having hired consultancy firms to assess technical questions “only after the complaints from residents”, but also points out that these firms are “considered to lack credibility”. The report includes the note: “If we would conduct a deeper and more complete analysis about the proposal for the LRT system, we are convinced that there are still many problems that should be studied.”

As to its proposal, CCAC states: “We are aware of the fact that changes can cause additional financial costs and delays in the work. However it is important to be aware of the fact that we are facing a work (project) for the new millennium, thus, for the future. Therefore it is necessary to maintain (a) cautious and strict position, as the project is going to have a direct impact on the development of Macau and on the life of its population for the next 10 years.”

GIT states that the LRT is a “work without forerunner”

On the same day as the release of CCAC’s report, GIT issued a press release. Although not directly mentioning the latter, GIT stresses that the LRT is a “work without forerunner, one of the highest-scale infrastructure [projects] of the Macau government”, which implies “a lot of technique and considerable complexity, as well as characteristics of a social project.” This makes it necessary “to develop actions corresponding to the regional development, to the social environment and to the opinion of the population (…) in addition (to) taking into consideration technical factors.” Referring to an audit report from last year, it “takes the suggestions and findings very seriously” as well as the “scrupulous revision of its work.”
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Old September 12th, 2012, 04:30 AM   #302
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SJM reiterates interest in Cotai parcels 7 and 8: Ambrose So thinks Macau can handle 30 million visitors
12/09/2012 08:29:00
Macau Daily Times

Good food and a positive prediction about Macau’s touristic future prompted the Sociedade de Jogos de Macau S.A. (SJM) to welcome members of the Global Tourism Economy Forum to a luncheon organized at the Grand Lisboa Hotel’s Grand Ballroom yesterday. The chief executive officer of SJM Holdings Limited, Dr. Ambrose So, said he expects an increase in the number of tourists to Macau, and accordingly, he welcomes the upcoming opening of the Sheraton as “we need more hotel rooms.”

As to the influences the gaming industry may be subjected to by the increase in mainland tourists with the relaxation on entry permits by six cities, SJM’s CEO commented: “The new arrangements will bring additional visitors; I think the city can handle 30 million visitors. After 10 days of implementation, we see a slight increase of visitors, which benefits both (the) mass market and VIP sectors. But we need to see a more long-term trend to see the effects, we can't judge by a few days.” He added the impact also “depends on the consumers' spending power because the global and Chinese economies are uncertain.”

In his keynote, Mr So stressed that Macau, with its world heritage status, should not be called the “Monte Carlo” or “Las Vegas of Asia”, because “Macau has its own very special characteristics.” According to him, the purpose of SJM and the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM) is to “improve the welfare of the residents.” He also mentioned that nowadays other cities also have casinos, thus “Macau needs to make use of its particular advantages.” In this spirit, Mr So thinks that China's 12th Five-Year Plan will bring more diversification to Macau. “The Hengqin Island will bring an important support for the development of Macau’s non-gaming sectors. So that tourists can stay longer.” With the construction of the Guangzhou-Macau train and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, he expects Macau to definitively “become a center for world tourism.
Nevertheless coming back to gaming, Mr So also answered journalists’ questions about plans to build a casino in the Cotai area. “We always have interests in parcels seven and eight in Taipa, but Sands is having some legal arrangements with the government now over the land”. He stated that within the gaming sector, “we have great advantages, because we know the market. We have close relationships to (with) the government, we are local. Most tourists are from China, we know their taste. We can reposition ourselves when we build a new property in Cotai.” However, he denied obtaining any advantages from the Las Vegas Sands’ lawsuit: “The only advantage that we have is not having any lawsuit.” As to the planned casino in Taipa, he explained, “it will take at least two to three years before SJM's casino is built in Taipa, we're waiting for the details.” For the same reason, the chief executive officer also sees “no urgent need to employ foreign labor”. Right now, he explained, “we have the highest rate of local employees in Macau, 95% are locals.” As to investments in Portugal or Europe in general, “we are waiting for them to recover from the crises so that they can spend again.”
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Old September 14th, 2012, 05:02 AM   #303
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Migrant laborer killed on “Windsor Arch” construction site
13/09/2012 08:25:00
Macau Daily Times

Hit by a concrete container that suddenly fell, a mainland construction worker was found unconscious with no vital signs when rescued from the “Windsor Arch” construction site near the Estrada Governador Albano De Oliveira in Taipa on the evening of September 11. The hospital pronounced the man dead on arrival. The Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) sent staff to the scene to investigate the cause of the accident, and yesterday ordered the partial suspension of the works, which will only be fully resumed after the accident report has been delivered and approved by the authority.

Due to the alleged power failure at the construction site, the operating crane lost its balance and a container holding a load of concrete that totaled three tons dropped from the construction block. The victim was working on the 36th floor of the building as he was struck. Other workers on the site heard the loud clamor and moved their colleague out from the concrete slurry. Firefighters, who arrived later, found the victim to have no vital signs.

DSAL followed up affairs related to the accident, including the victim’s insurance indemnification. The bureau ordered the constructor to halt part of its project and stop using the same type of machines.

The supervisor who oversees the project, Mr. Mak, told TDM that the reason for the power failure remained as yet unknown, but he reckoned the accident was due to a mechanical malfunction of the crane. He said four cranes had been suspended. The constructor had urged the supplier and third party to hand in reports. Besides this, the developer and constructor agreed to provide a total of MOP 230,000 to the victim’s family as compensation.

A DSAL department head said the accident was an independent case, and the Bureau had urged all construction sites in Macau to examine their existing facilities. “The project is partially suspended and the constructor has stopped the cranes. The restoration of the work will only be allowed after they deliver a detailed accident report and get admission (approval),” said the department head.
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Old September 17th, 2012, 11:02 AM   #304
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Melco confident of Studio City casino, Francis Tam says no
17/09/2012 05:13:00
Macau Daily Times

Melco Crown Entertainment Limited has applied for a casino at its new Studio City Cotai project, which was originally intended as a five-star hotel resort, and the company again expressed its confidence that a gaming venue will be built in the new project approved by the government in 2008. But the authority reiterated that only applications submitted before 2008 would be considered for any new additional gaming floor.

Lawrence Ho, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, told the media last Friday that Studio City had received construction approval and is expected to open in 2015 as scheduled. He also confirmed that the company had already applied for a gaming business to be added to the project originally planned as a hotel resort, and he expressed confidence that there would be positive feedback from the authority.

But Francis Tam, the Secretary for Finance and Economy, told the media later on the same day that the government hasn’t changed its position, and only applications for gaming floor submitted before 2008 would be considered. He reiterated that it’s an established policy to limit the number of gaming tables in Macau to below 5,500 by 2013, and after that, the growth rate would be contained at an average of 3 percent per year.

Since the approval of Studio City’s development plan in 2008, Melco and the authority have repeatedly expressed conflicting remarks over the possibility of a casino at the project. Last July, the Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io, also personally confirmed that there would be no gaming facility at Studio City and that the developer of this Cotai property was required to adhere to the 2008 development plan approved by the government, in which no casino was proposed.

But Lawrence Ho restated his confidence on different occasions that the group’s next Cotai project would receive the necessary government approval to include a gaming floor.
In June, Melco completed the acquisition of a 60 percent share in Studio City. The gaming operator said the new project has 300 to 400 tables and 1,200 gaming machines planned for when it opens.

“Studio City needs the necessary gaming tables to make the project financially viable for us,’ said Ho in an investor briefing last August. A 130,789 square meter (1.4 million square foot) plot was earmarked for the new Cotai project, according to a Macau’s Official Gazette issued last year.
Ho also told the media on the sidelines of the award presentation ceremony of the Macau Youth Design Contest, held at the Cotai Grand Hyatt Hotel last Friday, that although Melco is also investing in casino businesses overseas, including in the Philippines, Macau is still, and will always be the company’s major investment market.

MPI student wins macau youth design contest

Macau Polytechnic Institute (MPI) student, U Man In, was selected from among 184 candidates as the winner of the Macau Youth Design Contest. U’s prize was a 10-day internship in Belgium working at the creative headquarters of the Franco Dragone Entertainment Group. The contest, organized by Meclo in partnership with Franco Dragone Entertainment Group and MIP, created a once-in-a-lifetime, “fantasy-come-true” opportunity for local design students. During the ceremony, U Man In recounted her memorable experience in Belgium: “It has been an incredible experience. When I started working at the creative headquarters of The House of Dancing Water in Belgium, it took me quite some time to convince myself that I was not dreaming. I could not ask for a better prize.” The first runner-up Lei Mei Yan, and second runner-up Lun Ying Qiao, were also awarded certificates in the contest. After their unveiling in the award ceremony, the winning designs will be featured on the special commemorative t-shirt, to be given to all guests attending The House of Dancing Water’s second anniversary show on September 16. Professor Lei Heong Iok, President of the Macau Polytechnic Institute, told the gathering: “As practitioners-to-be of the creative industry, it was an invaluable experience for the design students to work alongside a celebrated team of creative minds in the program.”
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Old September 19th, 2012, 09:58 AM   #305
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Engineers inspect Ka Ho buildings allegedly damaged by demolition works
19/09/2012 08:15:00
Macau Daily Times

Engineers went to Ka Ho Village in Coloane yesterday to inspect cracks on some of the buildings allegedly damaged by demolition works on nearby structures that the government said were constructed on illegally occupied land. But no conclusions were as yet made on the safety of the affected buildings, and some residents even moved out to avoid potential dangers.

A group of engineers from the Civil Engineering Laboratory of Macau were engaged by the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) as an independent third party to check the structural conditions of several buildings that developed cracks on their walls last week after DSSOPT started demolishing nearby buildings they believed to be illegally erected.

Many villagers were present on site during the inspection yesterday to enquire about the safety conditions of their residences, but were given no answers. According to DSSOPT’s press release, initial investigations found cracks on the walls of six buildings. The engineers collected data at the site for further analysis and will submit a report to DSSOPT once a conclusion is made. But it did not specify when this conclusion is expected.

DSSOPT stressed that an initial evaluation showed there was no structural danger to the buildings despite the cracks, but as a precaution, they sent the engineers as an independent party to verify the buildings’ condition with a view to addressing residents’ safety concerns.

Demolition works were already suspended after the cracks were identified, and DSSOPT said heavy machinery wouldn’t be used again for the demolition, even if the works resume.

But some residents were extremely worried for their safety despite reassurance by the authority. TDM reported that a large family with young children moved out of their house yesterday because of concerns over their wellbeing. They complained to the broadcaster that they had reminded DSSOPT workers not to use heavy machinery for the demolition works, because many of the houses nearby are constructed of bricks and cannot withstand the shocks, but the workers did not listen to them. Some villagers also expressed dissatisfaction with DSSOPT for not sending senior officials to inspect the site.

DSSOPT Director Jaime Roberto Carion told the media that there was no conclusion yet as to whether the cracks were caused by the demolition works, but if they were, the authority would ask the contractor to provide repair services or compensation to the owners.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 12:16 PM   #306
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Temporary traffic arrangements near Taipa LRT site
20/09/2012
Macau Daily Times

As the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system’s Taipa section is in progress, the current two-lane carriageway on Est. Governador Albano de Oliveira near the Macau Jockey Club will be narrowed to a single lane from this Saturday, the Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) and Transport Bureau (DSAT) revealed yesterday.

DSAT said they would embark on other temporary traffic measures during the LRT construction project. The authorities will set up two bus stops as well as two traffic lanes to temporarily ease road congestion in the area. DSAT and GIT also suggest that residents should try to use other roads near Est. Governador Albano de Oliveira during the construction period.

Some metered parking spaces nearby will be adjusted or cancelled, given the development of the construction works. According to DSAT, the Taipa Central Park parking lot will provide free admission to cars that park for less than 12 consecutive hours.

Both the traffic arrangements near the Macau Jockey Club and Taipa Central Park will take effect on September 22 (this Saturday) from 10.30a.m.
The next stage of the LRT project will be located near Taipa Village and the authority estimated it would commence in the fourth quarter of the year. The whole LRT system is estimated to cost Macau MOP 11 billion.

The 3.4kilometre LRT Cotai Section includes four stations covering the major resorts in the Cotai Strip as well as the center of Taipa village; the 3.1kilometer Lotus Border Crossing Section has three stations linking the Macau University of Science and Technology, the airport, and the Pac On Ferry Terminal. The 1.9kilometre section with five stations linking Taipa village and the Sai Van Bridge began construction in February, as stated in an earlier MDT report.
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Old September 21st, 2012, 12:29 PM   #307
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Sands wants to build “little Paris” in Cotai Strip, launches USD2.5b new resort
21/09/2012
Macau Daily Times

Sands is building a USD 2.5 billion new resort featuring the Parisian icon of the Eiffel Tower in the Cotai Strip at the end of this year to further tap the potential of the mainland Chinese market as the global casino-resort operator’s boss Sheldon Adelson expressed confidence and high expectations of the region’s prospects, despite sluggish economic data on the mainland and the slowing down of gaming revenue in Macau.

Adelson disclosed the plan yesterday during a press conference for the launch of the Sheraton hotel-resort in its Sands Cotai Central project. Sitting on land near the group’s Four Seasons Hotel, the Paris-themed new resort will feature a duplicate of the Eiffel Tower, but at just 50 percent of the original’s size.

“Our next full-sized project, called the Parisian, has about 3,300 (hotel) rooms. It would be as equally a must-see project as the Sheraton, the Venetian,” the billionaire told the congregation of over a hundred journalists from across the world. “The project is subject to government approval and (construction works) could start in about 60 days.”

According to Sands Chief Operating Officer Michael Leven, the company will fund the complex with around USD 1 billion cash and USD 1.5 billion in bank loans. The Parisian is expected to further boost the company’s presence on the Cotai Strip, where it already has casino-resorts including the Venetian and the Sands Cotai Central.

Asked if the market is reaching saturation point, the 79-year-old billionaire expressed optimism at Chinese visitors’ spending power, and believed the game has barely begun for the casino-resort market: “This industry is a supply and demand industry. Las Vegas is being visited by around 13 percent of the US’s population. If we (Macau) get visited by 13 percent of the population here, by China, it would be close to 200 million visitations. This year we’re lucky to get 30 million”, he revealed.

Analysts also pointed to the completion of a new rail line linking Macau to Guangzhou and the relaxation of visa requirements for mainlanders to further drive up demand. Asked about the possibility of negotiations with Beijing and the Macau government for further relaxation of visa restrictions, he said: “I don’t want to get involved in politics in any other country. As far as the visa problem is concerned, if the Chinese government wants to issue the visas, let them release the visas. In every country and every city in the world, I’m sure there are some obstacles for the businessmen, the regulations, the restrictions, you gotta live with them. I disagree with some of my compatriots in the US about how to deal with China. I say we don’t want them to tell us what to do, and so they don’t want us to tell them what to do.”

Separately, Adelson said the Macau authority had already issued the permit for the company to build the forth hotel, at the northern end of Sands Cotai Central, and the new facility will offer an additional 400 rooms. Construction is expected to take over one year.

In 2013 when Sands Cotai Central is wholly completed, the property will have over 5,800 hotel rooms and suites, 1.2 million square feet of meeting and convention space, and 300,000 square feet of gaming space.

Edward Tracy, CEO of Sands China, said the hotels in the facility have a comprehensive range of pricing and unique features to draw different kinds of customers, including families and visitors on business trips.

As for non-gaming business, he also said the portfolio and revenue of this sector is expanding, and it currently constitutes around 12 percent of current revenue. He said the company’s MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) business has also been growing continuously.

200 new gaming tables for SCC next January

Adelson also said Sands hoped to expand its casino-resort model to other destinations, including Madrid in Spain, and many other Asian markets including Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Sands just announced a USD 22 billion “Euro Vegas” casino-resort in the Spanish capital last month, and Adelson expressed strong interest in expanding its gaming empire elsewhere, especially in the Asian region. He said Taiwan has just legalized gaming in one of its outlying islands, but if the legalization expands to more populous cities, such as Taipei or Kaohsiung, “we would like to put one of our integrated resorts there”. Leven said the company is studying the political implications and is moderately optimistic of the prospect, but it would still take some time.

Sands eyeing other Asian destinations for new casino-resort

Sands Cotai Central will have 200 more gaming tables next January, taking its total up to 400, just as the government originally committed to when the project was approved. Michael Leven, Chief Operations Officer of Las Vegas Sands told the media yesterday that from the very beginning, the authority already committed 400 tables to the casino-resort, but due to the table-cap limitation, the company currently only has 200 and won’t get the remaining 200 until next January when a new batch of tables will be approved for the new year. Currently the resort already has nearly 400 tables, as a result of moving 200 from their other casinos, including the nearby Venetian, where large-scale innovation works are underway, and so has to cut its gaming area anyway for the time being. The whole casino-resort currently comprises 300,000 square feet of total gaming space. Separately, Adelson suggested that gaming tables should be allocated to casinos in accordance with their investments in Macau. In this case, Sands would get much more of the share instead of being subject to the table limit just as other operators are.
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 04:36 PM   #308
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Cocktail welcome precedes new Sheraton hotel opening
20/09/2012
Macau Daily Times




Source : Starwood

A casual cocktail get together reception was organized yesterday by the Sheraton Macau Hotel to anticipate its opening celebration which takes place today. Cocktails and snacks were offered in the brand new lobby to all guests accompanied by live music and welcoming staff dressed in colorful indigenous costumes. Mr Joseph Dolp, managing director of the Sheraton Macau, which is part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, welcomed the guests before passing to Hoyt Harper II, senior vice president of Starwood global brand management, also called “Mr Sheraton”, according to Mr Dolp’s introduction. “Mr Sheraton” declared he was very happy to witness the inauguration of the “largest hotel to open outside Las Vegas in the last years”, which is “one of the three Sheratons to open in the next three years.” It has a total of 3,986 rooms, as well as boasting the largest club lounge in all Starwood hotels and resorts. Mr Harper II considers “Macau is a great destination” and added, “We are proud to open the largest hotel in the destination. We expect it will capture the attention of the media worldwide and Sheraton as a world gathering place will be a center for not only individual travellers but for large groups and conventions as well.” As to the difference between the Macau resort and other Sheraton Hotels, “this is by far the largest, it is 13 times the size of our average hotels. It also contains our signature sports club and the largest club lounge”, explained the senior vice president. This means 570 rooms have access to the lounge, where the guests will have private access to dining and a private pool. He reiterated, “We are proud to be selected to operate the largest hotel in this region. We believe the Chinese costumers, when they come to Macau, will want to stay with brands that they know and there is no one more recognized in China than Sheraton.” Mr Harper II himself didn’t know how much a room in the Sheraton costs, but the reception staff revealed that the current opening promotion is MOP 888 for one night. After the welcome speech, guests were shown around the several multinational restaurants that the hotel includes.

Today’s opening also coincides with the brand’s 75th anniversary.

In line with the anniversary celebrations, over 90 Sheraton Hotels & Resorts in the Asia Pacific will be rolling out a series of activities and offers that will enable guests to commemorate the brand’s legacy.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 05:16 PM   #309
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Macau Maritime Museum plans to expand
08/10/2012 08:25:00
Macau Daily Times

The head of the Macau Maritime Museum revealed that they are about to begin a study into the expansion of the museum, based on a TDM report. He said that the number of visitors is dropping year by year because the current space is not large enough. The government launched a renovation plan for the A-ma temple last year, according to which the Maritime Museum can use the dock behind it. The museum said they planned to include the dock and add new buildings to enlarge the gallery space. The expansion project will focus on the protection of the A-ma temple’s heritage whilst coordinating with future traffic arrangements.
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Old October 11th, 2012, 03:10 PM   #310
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City U requests approval for new campus
08/10/2012 08:25:00
Macau Daily Times

City University of Macau claims that it applied to build a new campus in Coloane two years ago, but the government still has not given any reply to date. Council Chairman of City University Chan Meng Kam disclosed to TDM that the new campus, if approved by the authority, would be able to accommodate 6,000 full-time students. The university revealed that they might also make an application to build a campus in Hengqin Island in order to meet future demand. The lawmaker said the university would keep negotiating with the government to find suitable locations for the new campus.
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Old October 13th, 2012, 10:11 AM   #311
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UM embraces new era as Hengqin campus opens next September
12/10/2012
Macau Daily Times

The University of Macau’s new campus on Hengqin Island will be ready for use as soon as next September to provide a new era of tertiary education tailor-made for the new generation.

UM Rector Zhao Wei briefed the media on the latest developments of the new campus, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year. He anticipated that preparations for moving into the new facility - which is 20 times more spacious that the current campus - would begin early next year. The scholar said they would try their best to start using the new facility in Hengqin by the beginning of the next academic year in September.

The university is rolling out new programs to make the project a new schooling experience for young people as Zhao promised to build a world-class university with a unique character and academic excellency. The institution will increase its number of undergraduates by almost 20 percent to 7,000 in the next school year as more teaching staff are joining the new campus. The university also promised to adjust the structure of postgraduate courses to make more research programs available for local undergraduates.

UM will launch applied masters degrees in law, education, social science and management tailor-made for Macau’s adults to promote on-the-job or lifelong studies in the city. The university is also planning a major bio-chemical and medical instruments center, which will be shared with other educational and research institutions in Macau. To benefit the community as a whole, UM’s library, sports centers and cultural center will be open for use by the general public.

Zhao admitted that there is pressure to increase tuition fees next year as prices are rising, but he expected any hike would not exceed the rate of inflation, and stressed that the school would provide assistance to students with financial difficulties. UM’s budget for the current academic year is around MOP 1.3 billion (about MOP 900m of which came from the government) but financial details were short for the year to come. Likewise, so were those regarding the latest updates on the investigation of the collapse of the tunnel connecting the new UM campus to Taipa. The incident in late July caused concern over the quality and safety of the project as laborers working at the site alleged that several of their colleagues were buried as the tunnel fell after days of heavy rains in the area.

Zhao Wei anticipated that preparations for moving into the new facility - which is 20 times more spacious that the current campus - would begin early next year

As for the existing UM campus in Taipa, the rector said yesterday that it’s for the government to decide how to use it after the university has moved to Hengqin. The government has decided not to put it up for commercial use - instead it will be used for cultural or social purposes, but details were yet to be finalized. UM wants to set up an office and keep part of the infrastructure in the area but the government has not yet given this the green light.

The new campus consists of 80 buildings with a floor area of over 945,000 square meters that can accommodate up to 10,000 students and 800 teaching staff in the form of residential colleges.

Zhao also briefed the media on the university’s academic achievements including the doubling of the SCI (Science Citation Index) in the past three years, demonstrating its advancements on the scientific front as well as dissertation quality. Separately UM is one the winners of the Award for Science Advancement in China.

Separately, the university will confer honorary doctorates on four distinguished individuals this year. Arden Lee Bement, Jr., who has made outstanding contributions in his many important leadership roles in industry, academia, and government agencies as well as his materials research in support of advanced engineering conversion technologies, will be the recipient of the honorary Degree of Doctor of Science.

Master Hsing Yun, the founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order who has established himself as an influential world religious and philanthropic figure with a large worldwide following, will be the recipient of the honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities.

Ambrose So Shu Fai, CEO of SJM Holdings Limited and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, will be the recipient of the honorary Degree of Doctor of Social Sciences.

Prof. Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, one of the world’s leading scholars in computation theory who has made significant and original contributions to the niche scientific areas of data organization, the complexity-based theory of pseudorandom number generation, cryptography, communication complexity, and quantum teleportation, will be the recipient of the honorary Degree of Doctor of Science.

The conferment ceremony will be held at UM’s Cultural Centre on 14 November (next Wednesday). Higher degrees will also be awarded at the ceremony. Fernando Chui Sai On, Macau’s Chief Executive and chancellor of UM, will preside over the ceremony.
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Old October 16th, 2012, 01:05 AM   #312
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nice project................................
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Old October 16th, 2012, 08:34 PM   #313
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200 families evacuated after risk detected at Sin Fong Garden
12/10/2012 07:34:00
Macau Daily Times

The residents of the Sin Fong Garden building will have to wait several more days before they can return to their homes. The structure located at the Avenida Marginal do Patane had been evacuated two days earlier after it was seen that the plaster façade was peeling off and cracks were spotted on a pillar in the parking lot.

The Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) sent three engineers to the building, detecting a high level of risk for residents. All inhabitants of the building were consequently resettled and the contractor undertaking neighboring construction work was given orders to stop and instead help with temporary consolidation measures for the damaged building. DSSOPT director Jaime Carion, who together with the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) president Iong Kong Io, answered journalists’ questions concerning the case.

The officials said that consolidation works using supporting pillars had already been concluded for the 2nd and 3rd floors, but the owners of the shops located on the ground floor still had to be contacted to facilitate the placement of the pillars. Residents were yesterday allowed to return to their homes for 15 minutes to take necessary essentials. They all spent the night in hotels, which the neighboring contractor was obliged to pay for. “We hired the Macau Laboratory of Civil Engineering and another consulting laboratory from the University of Macau to conduct the necessary studies and place the controlling equipment”, said Mr Carion. Meanwhile, the neighboring buildings will also be inspected. Only after obtaining the results from the two laboratories will it be definitively known whether the inhabitants can return to their houses or whether the building will have to be demolished. The DSSOPT director considered, “There are some technical ways to solve the problem.”

But several residents don’t want to return, fearing the lack of safety in their building. “I can’t say if these people can get compensation”, said Mr Carion. “First we have to find out the reasons for the anomalies.”
As a first remedy, residents will receive subsidies from today onwards, which will be calculated according to social risk, the IAS president explained. This means around MOP3,300 per person. With these subsidies the temporary homeless can choose between staying with friends, renting a place or opting for the Ilha Verde Centre for Victims of Disasters. In order to protect their homes, PSP officers are guarding the building. It is still uncertain how long the evacuation will last . The IAS also established a service line for inhabitants in case of medical emergencies or other urgent needs. Mr Iong professed that they would work extra hours during the weekend to provide residents with all necessary measures.

Regarding criticism of previously presented complaints from inhabitants, Mr Carion clarified that they had referred to noise caused by the demolition of an older neighboring building, not the one now in question. Sin Fong Garden is a privately constructed residential complex dating from 1990. It has 30 floors and hosts 200 families as well as shops on the ground floor. The results of the analysis will show whether the contractor can be held responsible, said Mr Carion. A contractor always has to appoint a licensed directing technical engineer, who will be responsible for the safety of the construction, including the neighboring areas. In this case, Mr Carion explained, the problem “is not that the pillar is inclining but the cement is cracking.” He therefore considered the reason was not due to a structural fault, assuring the public that “it’s the first time that this kind of cement cracking has happened.” As to cases of similar problematic buildings since the handover, only three such incidents have come to light so far.

CE adjourns the problematic building

Chief Executive Chui Sai On visited the building and gave orders to the corresponding services to proceed with the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the inhabitants. He said it’s still early to reach conclusions about the situation but stressed that “security is always the government’s priority”. He estimates seven days are necessary to get all the necessary information about the case.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 04:06 PM   #314
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MGM Cotai resort’s gaming tables put into question
22/10/2012 08:25:00
Macau Daily Times

MGM’s target to include 500 gaming tables and 2,500 slot machines in its new casino-resort in Cotai was put into question as Francis Tam, the Secretary for Economy and Finance, stressed that the government is yet to decide the allocation of gaming tables for new casinos, which will largely depend on the non-gaming business these gaming operators have.

On the day following MGM’s high-profile announcement of the government’s land approval for its Cotai casino-resort, Francis Tam clarified last Friday that the number of gaming tables is just a target put forward to the authority by the gaming operator for its as yet unbuilt resort, but currently the government is yet to make a decision on the allocation of new gaming tables, which will be in line with the established principle of no more than 3 percent annual growth in the coming ten years.

Speaking on the sidelines of a seminar for the promotion of business exchanges between Macau, the mainland province of Jiangsu and Portuguese-speaking countries, Tam stressed that both the gaming and other business in the new MGM project will have to undergo government screening and approval.

The Secretary also stressed that no new gaming tables will be allocated to casinos this year. As for the new quota for next year, he said the government would collect development plans from casino operators, and in the next year, make a decision on the allocation of the new gaming tables to the operators in accordance with the share of non-gaming elements in their overall business portfolio, as a measure to encourage diversification from gambling.

MGM announced last Thursday the winning of a land grant to develop their second casino resort in Macau. MGM has made an initial payment of MOP 450 million (USD 56 million) to the Macau government for the HKD 20 billion project. MGM CEO Grant R. Bowie stated that up to 85 percent of the development is non-gaming, including the plaza, meeting rooms, and food and beverage facilities. In terms of gaming, up to 500 gaming tables and 2,500 slot machines would be placed in their soon-to-be-launched Cotai project, according to the senior executive. The CEO said they are confident in developing the Cotai project in accordance with government policy.
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Old October 25th, 2012, 10:09 AM   #315
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Sin Fong residents allowed to retrieve their belongings today
24/10/2012
Macau Daily Times

The Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) will allow residents of the Sin Fong building, which is said to be at risk of collapsing, to return to their homes for the retrieval of their personal belongings for the third time today, following an evacuation earlier this month. The authority states that it has “properly increased the quota for the inhabitants and extended the collecting time period”, in a press release published on Monday.

To “ensure the safety as well as the stability for report data”, DSSOPT says they can only open certain floors in the structure, allowing owners to collect or move their belongings in the same period, except that the removal of any furniture or electrical facilities linked to the walls will not be allowed.
This is the third time that the inhabitants have been allowed back into their homes. The first time was two days after the sudden evacuation of all residents, followed by another arrangement on October 15 when the occupants of the distressed building were allowed back home again for just 15 minutes each to collect their belongings as inspectors followed them inside to check up on the safety conditions within, referring to previous MDT reports.

The government released the initial investigative report on the Sin Fong Garden incident last week, indicating that the building is not in any “immediate danger of collapse”, however its current status “fails to meet safe living conditions”.

DSSOPT released an official statement on its website yesterday, summarizing a series of emergency measures taken by the government ever since the incident occurred. “Now the government has debuted structural examination for the next phrase for deeper analysis. The authority understands neighborhood’s concerns and is closely following the case by installing inspection machines inside buildings nearby and arranging examinations accordingly”.

By Sunday, over 90 flats inside the Sin Fong building had been examined by an inspection committee under DSSOPT. Three other structures near Sin Fong are also being checked by the authority concurrently, according to a Macau Daily News report. Some householders told Macau Daily that rentals in the Patane area are in great demand and rents are increasing, with those unable to afford the high cost of leases having to look for apartments in other districts.

TDM reported that since the collapse, rates in the Patane area went up by at least 10%, according to a real estate agent. “That’s because suddenly there are 130 more families looking for a place to rent,” the news report pointed out.

Residents of the Kui Fu Building, a 6-storey residential block ordered by the government for complete evacuation in one month’s time because of the immediate danger of collapse, suspected that the cracks and inclinations in their building were caused by demolition works in a neighboring structure. And in another building next to Kui Fu, residents are also worried about their safety as Kui Fu is about to begin demolition soon. Kui Fu’s residents are reported to be seeking similar relief to that given by the government to residents of Sin Fong Garden, which was evacuated earlier this month over safety concerns. The occupants of the building, situated in Travessa da Corda, told TDM that they’re helpless regarding their accommodation problem after being given just 30 days to leave the building. The broadcaster quoted lawmakers as saying that inhabitants should be entitled to similar assistance to that given by the authority to Sin Fong Garden residents, who were granted urgent financial allowances, temporary accommodation and other support. Individual Kui Fu residents said when they moved into the building, they were not aware of the existence of illegal structures inside, which were found to be the reason for the cause of the cracks and leaning due to the extra weight they put on the building. Instead, some occupants believed the problems were caused by the demolition works in a neighboring edifice, and they believed the costs of leveling Kui Fu should not be shouldered by its owners only, without specifying who else was required to pay.
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Old October 29th, 2012, 09:35 AM   #316
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PUBLIC WORKS: Citizens seek more transparency and representation in urban planning matters
29/10/2012
Macau Daily Times



The citizens of Macau want more transparency and speed in the legislative process towards the development of the urban planning law, and also seek a higher number of members in the Urban Planning Council. These and other results were presented last Friday by the head of the Urban Planning Department (DPU) of the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT), Lao Iong, as a result of the consultation conducted between April 25 and June 8 by a government working group. During the 45 day consultation, which included several public sessions and workshops, 660 opinions were collected from diverse sectors of society on “Conceptual ideas of the project for the urban planning draft law and regarding related qualifications”. The main topics upon which opinions were sought were the legislative procedures, consultation procedures, the Urban Planning Council, execution and control of urban planning, expropriation, compensation for damages caused by urban planning, and other legal guarantees. Furthermore, public participation and transparency of information, rehabilitation of the old neighborhoods, environmental and cultural heritage protection, preventive measures and sanctions for violation of plans, the management regime for land, professional accreditation of the urban planning profession and other topics were raised as being of public concern.

According to the opinions presented, the citizens want an implementation of legal procedures that will ensure major transparency in urban planning. They agree with the establishment of an Urban Planning Council which will initially only have mere advisory capacity, but later will also participate in decision taking processes. The consultation shows, however, that the suggested two year mandate on the council is considered “too short.” “It’s a good hint for us to reflect on the council”, said Mr Iong, explaining how the government had studied different “models of such councils” from foreign countries “to see how they work.” According to the official, there was no opposition to the proposal that the council should not have more than 50% government representation. “The population agrees with that”, he said. At the same, the responses reveal the desire of the community to take part in open sessions of the council in order to “guarantee considerable transparency”. “We will see how it’s possible to realize this”, Mr Iong said. Another finding shows “the population wants more members on the council and more representatives from society”, namely from civil associations and community neighborhoods. As to that suggestion, “We will see how we can get more members and how many are efficient for its workflow. Too few isn’t good, but neither are too many”, the official explained.

In addition to government representatives, the council will also have representation in the form of urban planning experts, “But therefore it’s necessary to establish professional accreditation for them”, said the head of DPU. “This will also be a substantial diploma”. Another outcome of the consultation is that Macau’s community wants a mechanism that guarantees fair indemnification in case of expropriation. The working group will now undertake an analysis of the opinions and suggestions and see which of them can be implemented in law.

Furthermore, Mr Iong explained: “The urban planning law is only a basis. There will be relevant professional qualifications.” At the same time the revision of the land law must be elaborated upon and submitted to the Legislative Assembly. DSSOPT Deputy Director Ms Chan Pou Ha said special attention will be paid to this during the drafting process so as not to create inconsistencies between the two laws.

After the analysis and possible implementation of segments of the urban planning law, the group will then start the legislative procedure as soon as possible: “Hopefully still within this year”, Mr Iong ventured.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 12:54 AM   #317
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RETURN ON INVESTMENT
: Buyer identified for Caesars Cotai golf course
01/11/2012

Caesars Entertainment Corp., the U.S. gambling company saddled with USD22.7 billion of debt, plans to sell the golf course plot of land in Coloane after a five-year wait for government permission to build a casino in Macau.
The U.S. operator has received “significant” interest in the golf course it bought in 2007, Steven Tight, Caesars’ president of international development, said in an interview in Hong Kong yesterday. The gambling company is still seeking a partner in the world’s largest gambling hub, where it has failed to secure a casino license so far, he said.

Caesars, the largest owner of U.S. casinos, has been shut out of Macau after lagging competitors in applying for a license in the Chinese city, where gambling revenue surged to USD34 billion last year. Six operators, including U.S.-based Las Vegas Sands Corp., MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts Ltd. now hold concessions in the market that opened to foreign firms a decade ago.

“With limited prospects of gaining a casino license, it doesn’t make sense for them to hang on to that land,” said Grant Govertsen, a Macau-based analyst at Union Gaming Research. “Caesars is a casino operator, its core competency is gaming business, not hotel or some other entertainment theme parks.”

Caesars is looking to generate “greater near-term return” by selling the plot on the city’s Cotai strip, a piece of reclaimed land that is Asia’s equivalent of the Las Vegas Strip, Tight said.

“We are still committed to Macau and we are still very interested in pursuing opportunities,” he said.

He isn’t sure the company will make a profit from the land sale and declined to name potential buyers. The company also can’t be sure when it will be able to find a partner, he said. The Macau government won’t issue any licenses for new U.S. companies to operate casinos in Macau, Caesars Chief Executive Officer Gary Loveman said to investors and analysts in Las Vegas in October.

Caesars acquired a golf course in Macau in 2007, prior to the company’s 2008 USD30.7 billion buyout by affiliates of Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management LLC and David Bonderman’s TPG Capital, with the intent of developing a resort on the property. The company paid USD577 million for the land, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported. The golf course was built over an old rubbish dump with a thin layer of soil on top.

The casino operator is also looking at opportunities to open casinos in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, Tight said yesterday. It has no plan to expand in the Philippines because of regulatory issues, he said.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 09:17 AM   #318
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Civil group calls for building a government complex
13/11/2012 08:20:00
Macau Daily Times

A civil group urged the government to build an integrated government complex that can accommodate all departments instead of leaving the offices scattered in different commercial buildings at different locations, bringing much inconvenience to the public and opening the doors for possible collusion between the government and real estate owners.

The grassroots Macau Workers’ Self-Support Association handed a petition to government headquarters yesterday, after which the group’s leader Cheong Wing Fat told the media that currently many important government offices are located in private premises, such as the offices of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Dynasty Plaza, the Court of First Instance in Macau Square, the Identification Bureau in China Plaza, and the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau in Avenida de D. João IV No. 7.

“Since the government offices will not easily move out, this creates a practical advantage on the property owners’ side to increase the rents as much as they want,” Cheong said. “And there was no transparency in the selection of the locations of the government offices; so was the decision on the rents… That’s why the public has been suspicious of possible collusion between the government and the property owners through these kinds of rental arrangements.”

He urged the government to plan a facility in, for example, the land now under reclamation in the coastal area to house all government offices, which would not only save the authority the trouble of finding offices in different parts of the city, but would also save members of the public the trouble of going to different buildings in order to get the services they want.

“The authority has the financial means to build this kind of government complex due to the huge surplus and reserve it has. Such a complex will also make it more convenient for the authority to collect views from the public,” the activist said.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 06:15 AM   #319
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New Central Library to be built by government alone
13/11/2012 08:20:00
Macau Daily Times


2008 design by ARK associates (http://www.ark.com.hk/projects_details.php?id=58)

The government has given up on the idea of holding a public tender for the design of the new Central Library. According to Radio Macau, the Chief Executive decided to initiate the project alone, which will also include a Judiciary Police museum. Construction will probably start by the end of next year. In 2010 the tender for a conceptual design that had been launched two years earlier was canceled after Ung Vai Meng became president of the Cultural Institute (IC). At that time, the IC still announced it would continue with a public tender for the library. The problem now seems to have been solved. Yesterday Ung Vai Meng revealed that “there won’t be a tender anymore”, and that it will be the government to “make the design” and “carry out” the project in cooperation with the IC and the public works department. The IC president explained that the project comprises two phases: The first involves the old Court at Praia Grande and the second the Judiciary Police building situated at Rua Central. The “global plan” envisages the unification of both buildings. The project will take some time, as the Judiciary Police will leave its current location only in 2014. The general guidelines for the new library also involve other parts of the city. “We are going to build a road in order to access the Rua Central from the Avenida da Praia Grande. As to the Judiciary Police building, we are going to keep the existing one and add a mini-museum in order to show the history of the Judiciary Police”, Ung Vai Meng told Radio Macau.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 05:47 AM   #320
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Gov’t commissioned report downplays Sai Van Market environmental impacts
13/11/2012 08:20:00
Macau Daily Times

The government released a blueprint for the controversial Sai Van Lakeside Integrated Tourism Project, or the Sai Van Night Market, which is designed to include dining areas, fishing districts, an amphitheater and an area for creative industry products. The environmental impact report conducted by an independent research firm said the possible influences are minimal and could be properly handled with some remedial measures. But journalists attending a press conference at the Macau Cultural Center yesterday revealed skepticism about the whole plan.

Senior officials from seven government departments including the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) which is masterminding the contentious project, as well as the independent consultation firm AECOM Macau Company Limited - which was commissioned by the government to study the possible forms and extent of pollution likely to be caused by the plan - jointly briefed the journalists on the details of the project intended as a new attraction for both tourists and local residents alike.

Cheong Chan Meng, Director General of AECOM, said that in terms of noise pollution, their studies showed that the extra visitors and vehicles expected in the area following the completion of the project would generate only around one extra decibel of sound, with the slight difference being undetectable to human ears. Asked by the media how the result was reached, Cheong said their calculations were based on the annual growth in the number of vehicles in the urban area, which stands at around 3.5 percent, plus 5 percent in extra automobiles expected to flock to the district, as a presumption.

As to the impact of the amphitheater to be built in the Sai Van Lake Square outside the Macau Tower, Cheong said the open area is expected to host a maximum of 200 spectators, with a stage equipped with two strong amplifiers. But since the stage will face the Macau Tower and be situated as far as 300 meters from the nearest residential area, the sound attenuation value is so high that no practical impact is expected on the other side of the lake.

However, the consultant pointed out that with the construction of the Light Rapid Transit system about to get underway in the same area soon, the combined effect would be different from the night market alone. But he stressed that if remedial measures were taken along with coordination with public works departments, the impact could be controlled at a minimal range.
As to the sewage problem expected there because of the presence of restaurants, the company said the lake’s water quality wouldn’t be affected if new facilities were introduced to collect and separate used oil, with used water being properly drained into the sewage system. The Environmental Protection Bureau is studying the report and will submit its written opinion to IACM by the end of the year.

According to IACM, the night market will be situated on the lower side of the Sai Van Square and will have a total area of 2.25 square kilometers. It will be divided into different sections, comprising a “leisure dining zone” that will host 7 restaurants and cafes, a “special dining zone” featuring a 2000-meter square space inside a large vessel designated for serving special local cuisine, a “creative gift street” selling cultural products made by local artists, a “gourmet square” with 45 food booths, and an amphitheater for variety shows, concerts and performances.

The authority promised to keep the environmental impacts to a minimum by introducing a series of measures and facilities including a kitchen waste-processing machine, a recycling collection point, and to limit the performances to certain hours.

The plan is expected to occupy 400 of the 2500 meters of embankment along the lake. On the other sections, the authority is planning to add two fishing zones and to plant more trees along the bank, as well as extending the width of the pedestrian walkway to 5 meters.

IACM head Tam Vai Man stressed the project was planned following repeated calls from the private business sector, social organizations and neighborhood associations that believed a night market would benefit both the economy and the people. He also emphasized that a month-long public consultation was conducted from November to December last year during which 178 feedback comments were collected, with the majority of them expressing support for the plan, with only 12 of them clearly opposing the market or wanting it to operate in a different location.

But he was unable to answer the media’s questions as to why the results of the consultation conducted by the government were the opposite of those found by a civil group. Last month the organization discovered that 75 percent of respondents opposed a night market in Sai Van, mostly because of environmental concerns. Tam would not comment on whether the plan would be put on hold for a new public consultation, instead saying that in terms of location, there were not many choices for building a night market. Separately, he revealed that the plan still has no budget. As for the environmental study, the authority paid MOP 350,000 for it.
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