Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hometown Glory

Note:  Consider yourself warned.  This is a rant.  It originated from my 1 hour commute this morning.

If you ask people about Macau 10 years ago and now, you will get very different answers.

10 years ago, people will tell you Macau is a very laid back town.  A town where you will want to retire in.  People maybe loud but they are friendly and have their hearts in the right place.  Now, people will tell you "Oh! The Las Vegas of Asia."  Gambling was, is, and will always be the bread and butter industry but it has blown out of proportion in the past 10 years, after the government increased the gambling license from one to three.

Senado in 1985
Senado now

The changes since then have been drastic.  I don't even recognize this place anymore.  There is people everywhere - 90% of them are tourists, foreign students, import maids, new immigrants, etc.  (We proudly boast a 44:1 ratio of tourists to locals.  Our next door neighbor, Hong Kong, only has a 7:1 ratio.) Buses are packed like sardines 24/7 and getting a taxi is next to impossible.  Locals avoid the city center, old shops are disappearing and replaced by cosmetics and luxury shops.  Restaurants are overloaded with deteriorating qualities while prices skyrocketed.  A drainage pipe always needs to be fixed (even if it was just installed a year ago) and there is always construction going on somewhere.

The GDP of Macau was USD36.43B in 2011.  Considering a population of only 556K and an area of11.39 sq miles (29.5 km²), the results are stellar.  Yet, we have insufficient daycare, inadequate education system, limited occupation choices, below average health care, horrid transportation system, and more.  Yes, we have a democratic society and there is even an election going on.  But, is there anyone you want to pick from that bunch?  If any one of them can promise and deliver me one day a year where Macau is completely free of any non-citizen, I would not only vote for them but would also encourage everyone I know to vote for them.  (See, I am not even asking for housing, education, health care, transportation, etc.)

Locals can't afford any real estate in town.  Yes, the median salary went up from MOP8k to MOP12k but houses went from MOP500K to MOP5M.  Even a car park went from MOP200K to MOP1M.  While locals complain they have no place to live, 85% of the new buildings are unoccupied.  People waited 10 years on the last batch of assisted properties and the new development is nowhere near completion.  Yet, the new immigrants are getting all sorts of government subsidies and people with connections are getting citizenship from the back door... 

Where did the money go?  Honestly, if you wish you were a citizen of Macau merely because of the MOP$8K and various insignificant benefits we get from the Macau government every year, think again.  Most locals call this MOP$8K "hush money".  MOP$8K in Macau can't do much.  For example, if you try to hire a cab when typhoon #8 is hoisted, the taxi fare alone may cost you MOP$1K.  Monthly rent for a car park is approximately MOP$2.3K.  Rent for a 2-bdrm apartment in a 20 year+ building will easily costs you MOP$8K.

Yet, the disgruntled Macau citizens are still in the Three Monkey zone - blind, deaf, and mute.  I would describe a typical citizen of Macau as laid back, harmonious, and easy going.  This made us vulnerable and a perfect target for the "bullies".  Unchanged for 50 years?  

I know we all have to pay a price for the economic development, etc. and etc.  Like I said in the beginning, this is a rant and I am not liking to be stuck in traffic for 2 hours every day.

P.S.  I pity Hong Kong too.  Look at what is happening in Central every Sunday.  Dear rebellious bigger brother, please continue to be rebellious.  Only that will pause our mental "parents" from pushing the envelop further...


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