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Macao embraces improving public order over past decade

2009-12-15 11:25 BJT

MACAO, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Ten years after Macao's return to China, taxi driver Jheng Pin-kung is pretty sure of the sense of security in the region.

"Ten years ago, we were afraid of going out after 10 p.m.. But now, we feel safe walking the streets even at late night," says Jheng, who lives in the region's old town.

Macao, an enclave of Portugal for about 400 years, is to mark the 10th anniversary of its return to China on Sunday. The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), established in 1999, has witnessed rapid economic development and noticeably improved public security over the past decade.

Macao had been notorious for rampant gang and violent crimes, which terrified both local people and foreign investors.

After Macao's return to China, a crackdown on crime was top priority for the SAR government. The number of murder cases in Macao fell by 72 percent and arson was down 40 percent within the first year of its return.

"Fighting gang crime has been our major task," said Cheong KuocVa, Secretary for Security of the Macao SAR, in an interview with Xinhua.

According to Cheong, the SAR security department moved quickly against gang organizations and arrested their heads soon after Macao's return, which helped improve public security in a quick and efficient way.

In 2001, police of Macao solved the kidnapping of a senior lawyer within five days, which was widely reported by local and foreign media. Police from the mainland also offered help in the case.

"The public order in Macao owes to the SAR government's high attention and huge support in providing manpower and material resources as well as legal guarantees," Cheong said.

"Substantial support from the central government and close cooperation with police of Guangdong Province are also key factors in improving public order," Cheong said.

In a bid to crack down on cross-boundary crimes, Macao police established contact and coordination systems with the Ministry of Public Security, and police in Guangdong, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Chinese authorities started focusing on public security in Macao before its return. In 1998, the Preparatory Committee of the Macao SAR of the National People's Congress approved a proposal urging the Macao government to take the responsibility for maintaining public order before its return.

Macao SAR chief executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah, who has served 10 years, also vowed that the SAR government had resolution and strength in solving the public security problem.

All the government resources and policies should be mobilized to protect security and stability in Macao, Ho said.

In the past three years, the crime rate in Macao had risen due to the rapidly growing population, an influx of tourists and the gambling industry. However, authorities were confident of long-term stability.

"Public security in Macao has been stable in overall," said HaoZhidong, associate professor in the Department of Sociology in the University of Macao.

Earlier in December, the Macao Post Daily cited a survey conducted by the University of Macao as saying that 96 percent of respondents were satisfied with the development of Macao after its return to China.

Editor: Du Xiaodan | Source: Xinhua